New Laws Protect the Health and Welfare of Chicago & Cook County Workers

Minimum WagesChicago Minimum Wage Ordinance PosterCook County Illinois minimum wage paid sick leave

Earlier this week, new minimum wage rates took effect for employers operating in Chicago and Cook County, Illinois. Higher costs of living are often associated with these communities and raising the minimum wage rate gives workers buying power more on-par with workers in other major metropolitan areas of the country. Chicago has had its own minimum wage rate since 2015. This year, employees throughout Cook County are getting a raise.

Beginning on July 1, 2017, the minimum wage rate for the City of Chicago increased to $11.00 per hour. The minimum wage rate for other areas within Cook County increased to $10.00 per hour. By comparison, the Illinois’ statewide minimum wage rate is just $8.25 per hour. Both Chicago and Cook County minimum wage rates are scheduled to increase until the minimum wage rate reaches $13.00 per hour. Every year thereafter, the local minimum wage rate will be adjusted based on the rate of inflation. Chicago will reach the $13.00 per hour target one year sooner (2019) than Cook County (2020).

Paid Sick Leave

Starting on July 1, 2017, Chicago and Cook County employees also begin accruing paid sick leave time under a pair of new ordinances. The terms of the Chicago and Cook County paid sick leave ordinances are very similar. Chicago’s paid sick leave ordinance applies to employers who have a business facility within the geographic boundaries of the City. The Cook County paid sick leave ordinance applies to employers with facilities located in other areas of the County.

Both of the paid sick leave ordinances permit employees to accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked, up to 40 hours a year. Each law allows employees to use paid sick leave:

  • for their own illness, injury or medical care
  • to care for a family member who is ill, injured or receiving medical care
  • for reasons related to domestic violence, sexual violence or stalking
  • when the business or a child’s school or daycare is closed due to a public health emergency

Under either ordinance, employers who have paid sick leave policies which give employees paid time off in an amount and a manner consistent with such ordinance are not required to provide additional paid sick leave. Employers can place other conditions on the use of leave such as requiring advance notice, providing certification, and setting use minimums.

Notice of Employee Rights

Employers may not discriminate or retaliate against employees for exercising their rights. Chicago and Cook County employers must provide covered employees with individual notice of their rights and must post notices in the workplace informing employees of their rights under the law. We’ve combined the required notices into one poster for Chicago locations and one poster for Cook County locations.