Cook County, IL-(ENEWSPF)- In a landmark decision, the Cook County Board of Commissioners passed significant amendments to the Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance, transforming it into the Cook County Paid Leave Ordinance. The move, effective December 31, 2023, will to redefine employee rights and workplace flexibility for residents of Cook County.
Under this ordinance, employees may earn at least one hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked. Notably, employees can utilize this paid leave for any reason of the employee’s choosing. This presents a departure from the former Earned Sick Leave Ordinance. The former limited the usage to specific conditions like illness or medical care.
This progressive shift aligns with the State of Illinois’ Paid Leave for All Workers Act. Enforcement falls to the Illinois Department of Labor starting January 1, 2024. This reflects a broader commitment to workers’ rights across the state.
Praise for Paid Leave
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle expressed the importance of paid leave. She said, “Paid leave is essential for workers throughout Cook County. This policy reflects my administration’s dedication to human rights and public health. It ensures that employees have the freedom to take time off for any reason.”
The Chicago Federation of Labor also applauded the move. President Robert G. Reiter, Jr. stated, “We are pleased that Cook County will be raising the floor by guaranteeing all workers can accrue paid leave. This ordinance will ensure that workers can take care of themselves and their families—without putting their jobs in jeopardy or missing a paycheck.”
Employees covered by the ordinance include those working for an employer in Cook County or whose employer has a place of business in the county. Importantly, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees for exercising their rights under the ordinance.
Jennifer King, Esq., Interim Director of the Department of Human Rights and Ethics, emphasized the importance of enforcing labor ordinances, especially for vulnerable workers, and encouraged those who have experienced workplace violations to contact the Cook County Commission on Human Rights.
Enforcement of the Ordinance
The Cook County Commission on Human Rights will serve as the enforcement agency for the Cook County Paid Leave Ordinance. Enforcement will commence on February 1, 2024. Employees seeking information or wishing to file a complaint can access the complaint form and additional details on the Commission’s website.
Ordinance No. 24-0583 Paid Leave Ordinance (PLO) marks a pivotal moment in Cook County’s commitment to workers’ well-being. Its enforcement signals a significant stride toward fair and equitable labor practices in the region.