The New Chicago and Cook County Paid Sick Leave Ordinances – What Do They Say and How Do They Work?

By E. Christopher Caravette

July 12, 2017

Before July 1, 2017, in Cook County, Illinois, about 40 percent of private-sector workers (or about 840,000 people) were not entitled to any paid sick leave, and many risked losing their jobs if illness kept them from showing up to work. Today, however, all of that changed.

On July 1, 2017, both the City of Chicago and the County of Cook mandated, by ordinances, that employers must provide paid sick leave to employees. The county ordinance allows municipalities in the county to opt out if they so choose. An employer that employs at least 1 covered employee is covered under the ordinance.

Who is covered under the ordinance?

A covered employee under the new ordinances is anyone who works for a covered employer at least 80 hours in any 120-day period, and who works at least 2 hours in any 2-week period within Chicago or any municipality in Cook County that has not opted out.

Time spent traveling within a covered municipality (such as time spent on deliveries or sales calls) counts toward the 2-hour minimum.

Some specific employee exemptions for Chicago are allowed including agricultural employees, outside salespersons, members of religious organizations, students at an Illinois college or university covered by Fair Labor Standards Act, and employees or motor carriers.

Cook County exempts government entities and Indian tribes.

Both Chicago and Cook County exclude construction workers who are subject to collective bargaining agreements.

Ordinance Requirements

The ordinances require that covered employers grant covered employees paid sick time, which will accrue at a rate of at least 1 hour for every 40 hours worked. The maximum mandated amount of paid sick leave is 40 hours in a 12-month period. A 40-hour workweek is assumed for exempt employees (those who are not paid hourly). If the exempt employee works less than 40 hours, the employer has the responsibility of proving it.

Sick leave starts accruing on an employee’s first day of employment after July 1, 2017 (for existing employees, on July 1, 2017). A new employee must wait 180 days to start using the accrued time (this requirement effectively eliminates those who are temporary employees). Employees must be permitted to carry over up to 20 hours (which is half of the yearly allowance) into the following year for any unused time.

Under both ordinances, covered employers are required to post a notice of the employees’ rights at each physical location in Chicago or Cook County, as well as include a notice with each employee’s first paycheck (for current employees, the first paycheck they receive after July 1, 2017).

What is Not Required

Employers are not required to pay out accrued unused sick time upon an employee’s termination of employment, unless they are covered under a collective bargaining agreement that mandates this payment. Employers who already offer paid sick leave that meets the same requirements are not required to provide any additional paid sick leave. Existing paid time off or paid vacation policies can be used to satisfy the ordinances as long as the policy allows employees to use the time for illness as well.

Using Accrued Leave

A covered employee can use accrued sick leave under of the following circumstances:

  • if the employee is ill or injured;
  • if the employee is caring for an ill or injured family member;
  • if the employee is receiving medical care, treatment, diagnosis, or preventive care;
  • if the employee is caring for a family member who is receiving medical care, treatment, diagnosis, or preventive care;
  • if the employee, or a member of his or her family, is the victim of domestic violence or a sex offense; or
  • if the employer’s place of business (or the school of an employee’s child) is closed due to a public health emergency.

Employers may require up to 1 week of notice for leave that is reasonably foreseeable (such as for scheduled doctor appointments). When the need for sick leave is not reasonably foreseeable, employers can only require employees to give as much notice as is practicable under the circumstances. Employers cannot require a sick employee to arrange for a co-worker to fill in for them during the paid sick leave.

If an employee is on paid sick leave for 3 consecutive days, the employer may require proof of the stated reason for taking leave. However, employers cannot require the employee to specify or identify any precise illness, injury or medical condition.

Municipalities Opting Out in Cook County

Many municipalities have opted out of the county ordinance requiring paid sick leave. Included among those now opting out are Arlington Heights, Barrington, Bartlett, Des Plaines, Elk Grove Village, Elmwood Park, Hanover Park, Hickory Hills, Hoffman Estates, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Oak Forest, Oak Lawn, Orland Park, Palatine, Rolling Meadows, Rosemont, Schaumburg, South Barrington, Streamwood, Park, and Wheeling.

For additional information, please use the contact form.

LOOK TO US FOR ALL OF YOUR REAL ESTATE, SMALL BUSINESS, AND ESTATE PLANNING LEGAL NEEDS! WE APPRECIATE YOUR BUSINESS!

(Note: The information in this article is intended to be general in nature. Plan to discuss your particular circumstances with an attorney for how this might apply to you.)

It’s Hurricane Season (again) – Are You Prepared?

It’s Hurricane Season (again) – Are You Prepared?

By E. Christopher Caravette

July 2, 2017

With hurricane and storm season upon us, take time to review and record your possessions and important papers.

If a storm strikes, knowing what you have will help if disaster strikes.

• Safeguard your Paperwork – make sure all of your important legal documents (your will, powers of attorney or health care surrogate designation, birth and marriage certificate, social security card, passport or naturalization certificate, deeds and property records, and financial records) are protected or stored in the cloud or elsewhere)

• Inventory your Personal Property – make a list or, better yet, photograph or video your property with your mobile phone

In terms of your real estate, beware of the potential damage from wind, blowing rain and flooding. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety and the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes offer these tips to help reduce damage to your home.

• Check for gaps around pipes, electrical boxes and vents. Use waterproof caulk to seal any gaps or holes

• Purchase storm shutters (consider permanent ones – they could be worth the price) or plywood (½-inch to ¾-inch thick) to cover windows. Installing the hardware now will make putting up the shutters or plywood easier when a storm heads your way

• Add weatherstripping to hurricane shutters or plywood where they meet with walls to provide extra protection against water intrusion

• Trim tree branches that could break off in high winds and cause property damage

• Put away items around your yard, such as garbage cans, patio furniture and kids’ riding toys

• Roll up area rugs and move them to a second story, if possible, to help prevent growth of mold in case water seeps into your house

• Inspect sump pumps and drains to ensure they operate properly

• Remove outdoor items that are not tethered down

• Fill gas tanks in your cars

• Get extra cash from the bank or ATM

• Move furniture away from windows

• Store important documents in waterproof containers

Finally, prepare a Hurricane Kit. Make sure it includes:

• Flashlights & extra bulbs

• A battery-operated radio

• Battery-operated lanterns

• Batteries (in different sizes!)

• Matches

• A first aid kit

• Duct tape

• Rain gear

• A clock or watch (wind-up or battery-powered)

• Plastic garbage bags

• A fire extinguisher

• Scissors

• A can opener

• Clean clothes

• Extra blankets

• Heavy gloves

• Food and Water – Pack non-perishable food for each person for 3-7 days, including bottled water (1 gallon per person per day), bottled juice, two coolers (one for drinks, one for food), canned foods, and a manual can opener

• Dry pet food (if you have a pet).

LOOK TO US FOR ALL OF YOUR REAL ESTATE, SMALL BUSINESS, AND ESTATE PLANNING LEGAL NEEDS! WE APPRECIATE YOUR BUSINESS!

(Note: The information in this article is intended to be general in nature. Plan to discuss your particular circumstances with an attorney for how this might apply to you.)

Pet Trusts – Should You Consider One?

Pet Trusts – Should You Consider One?

By E. Christopher Caravette 

July 1, 2017

First of all, just what is a pet trust?

A pet trust is an arrangement to provide for the care and financial support of your pet (or pets) upon your disability or death. The trust is funded with property or cash that can be used to provide for your pet, based upon the specific instructions one specifies in the trust document.

A pet trust should name a trustee, the person who will carry out the trust directions for the care of the pet, including the handling and disbursement of trust funds and delivering the pet to the person or entity you designate to serve as the pet’s caregiver. The trustee and caregiver can be the same person or entity.

As with most trusts, you can create the pet trust while you are alive (called an inter-vivos or living trust), or at your death (a testamentary trust which is set forth in your will). In either case, you can change the terms of your pet trust at any time during your lifetime to accommodate changing circumstances. If you create an inter vivos trust, you can fund it with cash or property either during your lifetime (needed if the trust is to care for your pet if you become incapacitated), or at your death. A testamentary trust is only funded after you die.

Some of the instructions to consider for your pet trust include provisions for food and diet, daily routines, toys, medical care, grooming, and how the trustee or caregiver is to document expenditures for reimbursement. The trust can recite that it will insure the caregiver for any injuries or claims caused by the pet, and the trust can also provide for the disposition of your pet’s remains.

You may also want to name a person or organization to take your pet should your trust run out of funds. Also consider naming a remainder beneficiary to receive any funds or property remaining in the trust after your pet dies.

A potential problem arises if your pet is expected to live for more than 21 years after your death. This problem arises because, in many states, the “rule against perpetuities” (a legal term) forbids a trust from lasting beyond a certain period of time (usually 21 years after the death of an identified person – or in this case, an identified pet). However, almost every state has laws relating to pet trusts that address this issue in particular and allow for the continued maintenance of the trust, even if its terms would otherwise violate the rule against perpetuities.

We routinely create pet trusts for our clients.

For additional information, please contact me at christopher@caravette.com.

LOOK TO US FOR ALL OF YOUR REAL ESTATE, SMALL BUSINESS, AND ESTATE PLANNING LEGAL NEEDS! WE APPRECIATE YOUR BUSINESS!

(Note: The information in this article is intended to be general in nature. Plan to discuss your particular circumstances with an attorney for how this might apply to you.)

 

What Is A HIPAA Authorization, And How Does It Work?

By E. Christopher Caravette

March 24, 2017

In our lifetimes, most of us will face a serious illness or debilitating condition. Most of us also wish our loved ones to be kept well informed about our condition and illness. But unless one has completed and properly executed a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Authorization, our loved ones may be denied access to that important medical and health information.

The HIPAA Authorization gives healthcare providers permission to share information about your medical conditions and health care with as many people as you wish. But these Authorizations are very specific, and generally require reference to particular people, including spouses, partners, and children, before providers can speak with or provide information to them. Most doctors’ offices and hospitals have these forms available upon request. We also have these forms in office.

It is important to distinguish between a Healthcare Power of Attorney (or Health Care Surrogate Form) and a HIPAA Authorization. The HIPAA Authorization allows access to information, but only a Healthcare Power of Attorney (or Health Care Surrogate Form) allows an individual to make decisions based on that information. Though these other documents also give your agent access to your medical and health information, you should have both documents in place to protect your wishes and allow your loved ones to act on your behalf.

We routinely prepare HIPAA Authorizations for our clients and would be happy to assist you with yours.

For additional information, please contact me at christopher@caravette.com.

LOOK TO US FOR ALL OF YOUR REAL ESTATE, SMALL BUSINESS, AND ESTATE PLANNING LEGAL NEEDS! WE APPRECIATE YOUR BUSINESS!

(Note: The information in this article is intended to be general in nature. Plan to discuss your particular circumstances with an attorney for how this might apply to you.)

Cook County Treasurer Goes Paperless!

Cook County Treasurer Goes Paperless!

By E. Christopher Caravette

February 18, 2017

Like many credit card companies, the Cook County Treasurer now offers eBilling to taxpayers. Beginning with the 2016 2nd Installment Tax Bill (which will issue this summer), you can receive your tax bills via electronic mail.

To participate, all you need to do is create an eBilling account at www.cookcountytreasurer.com. The eBilling service is free and will allow you to link to your online bill where you can view details and make online payments.

Once you are registered, you will no longer receive tax bills via the U.S. Postal Service.

In addition to sending tax bills by email, the Treasurer will also send you a reminder prior to the due date of each installment.

This service is especially helpful if you keep track of multiple tax bills. You can register up to ten (10) properties per eBilling account.

Some of the benefits of this new service include:

  • It saves paper and postage
  • It provides a permanent electronic record
  • It provides convenient access to pay online
  • You won’t have to worry about late or lost mail

For additional information, please contact me at christopher@caravette.com.

LOOK TO US FOR ALL OF YOUR REAL ESTATE, SMALL BUSINESS, AND ESTATE PLANNING LEGAL NEEDS! WE APPRECIATE YOUR BUSINESS!

(Note: The information in this article is intended to be general in nature. Plan to discuss your particular circumstances with an attorney for how this might apply to you.)

First Installment 2016 Cook County Tax Bills are Out!!

First Installment 2016 Cook County Tax Bills are Out!!

By E. Christopher Caravette

February 1, 2017

By now, every owner of real estate in Cook County will have received the First Installment of 2016 real estate tax bill.

What you should know:

  • In Cook County, we pay annual real estate taxes in two (2) installments. The First Installment bill is always fifty-five percent (55%) of the prior year’s total tax bill. The Second Installment bill will, therefore reflect any increase or decrease in annual taxes.
  • Many homeowners already escrow taxes each month with their mortgage lender. If you are one of those homeowners, your lender will pay this bill (so don’t pay it yourself). It is always advisable, particularly if it is during your first year of ownership of the property, to make a quick call to the lender to confirm they received and are paying the bill.
  • Those homeowners who do not escrow taxes must pay this bill on or before Wednesday, March 1, 2017. Payments can be made online, in person, or at several banks (go to cookcountytreasurer.com for details).

For additional information, please contact me at christopher@caravette.com.

LOOK TO US FOR ALL OF YOUR REAL ESTATE, SMALL BUSINESS, AND ESTATE PLANNING LEGAL NEEDS!  

WE APPRECIATE YOUR BUSINESS!

(Note: The information in this article is intended to be general in nature. Plan to discuss your particular circumstances with an attorney for how this might apply to you.)

14 Important Rights for Landlords and Tenants in the City of Chicago

14 Important Rights for Landlords and Tenants in the City of Chicago

by E. Christopher Caravette

Although many landlord/tenant relationships are governed by a written lease, in the City of Chicago, The Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance also applies and controls the rights and responsibilities of both landlords and tenants.

Here are 14 things every landlord and tenant should know:

  • An oral lease and a written lease are both contracts and enforceable.  A written lease is always preferable, and one should take care to include all agreements (i.e., whether pets are allowed or whether smoking is allowed) in any written lease.
  • Every tenant is entitled to live in an apartment in compliance with all building codes and free of pests, mold, leaky ceilings, and with adequate heat and water.
  • If a repair problem arises, a tenant should advise the landlord in writing and request that the repair be remedied within 14 days.
  • A tenant is entitled to a receipt for any security deposit and is also entitled to know the name of the bank where the security deposit is being held.
  • A tenant is not relieved of the duty to pay rent if the property is in foreclosure.
  • A landlord may not enter a tenant’s apartment without first providing at least 48 hours prior notice, except in the case of an emergency.
  • A landord cannot retaliate against a tenant because a tenant complains to the City of Chicago or calls 311 to complain about repair issues.
  • Late fees cannot be outrageous.
  • A tenant may demand a rental receipt each time rent is paid, and is particularly advised to do so when rent is paid in cash.
  • To document repair problem in a court of law, a tenant must have photographs.
  • Upon moving out, a tenant must turn in all keys and is advised to get a receipt from the landlord.
  • A tenant should only be asked to pay for utilities that are used by the tenant within the apartment, and not for utilities for common area spaces.
  • Before filing a forcible action (for rent or for possession or both) a landlord must provide a tenant with a 5 day notice, a 10 day notice, or a 30 day notice, depending upon the situation.
  • A tenant is entitled to have an attorney to protect the tenant’s rights and assist with any court matters.

For a link to the full text of the ordinance, go to Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance.

(Note: The information in this article is intended to be general in nature. Plan to discuss your particular circumstances with an attorney for how this might apply to you.)

Be Aware! The New “Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law” is in Effect!

by E. Christopher Caravette

The new “Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law” prohibits the act of sending and reading texts, emails, and instant messages while operating a vehicle in the State of Florida.  A violation has been designated a secondary offense.  The first infraction imposes a fine of $30 and is categorized as non-moving.  A second infraction within 5 years imposes a fine of $60 and a moving violation of 3 points.  The law applies to all drivers, including general motorists and commercial drivers.

Be aware! The new law took effect on October 1, 2013!

For a link to the full text of the statute, go to http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2013/0052/BillText/Filed/HTML.

(Note: The information in this article is intended to be general in nature. Plan to discuss your particular circumstances with an attorney for how this might apply to you.)

 

 

Are your Powers of Attorney Up-to-Date? Changes in both Florida’s and Illinois’ Power of Attorney laws in the past few years may have an impact on those provisions you have already put in place. Now is the time to make sure your Powers of Attorney are as effective as you need them to be!

by E. Christopher Caravette

What is a “Power of Attorney” in the first place?

A Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives another individual the authority to act on your behalf when you do not or cannot act. You are the “principal” and the person you appoint is the “agent”.

There are generally two types of Powers of Attorney:

  • The financial Power of Attorney (in Illinois, called the “Power of Attorney for Property”), for financial and property matters; and,
  • The health care Power of Attorney (in Florida, called the “Health Care Surrogate”), for health care decisions.

Florida

Effective October 1, 2011, Florida’s Power of Attorney law changed drastically.

With respect to a Power of Attorney dealing with financial and property issues, the new law expands on the old law as a result of careful consideration by the Florida legislature and also as a result of experience over time with the provisions of the old law.  Some of the changes in the new law are:

  • Co-agents can exercise authority independently, unless the Power of Attorney provides otherwise.
  • Copies in lieu of original documents are acceptable.

One of the key purposes of the Florida Power of Attorney Act is to clarify the agent’s authority as it might affect the principal’s estate plan.  The principal must specifically acknowledge in the document if:

  • The agent has authority to make changes to the principal’s estate plan.
  • The agent has authority to change the rights of survivorship and beneficiary designations.
  • The agent has authority to waive rights under annuities and retirement plans.
  • The agent has authority to make gifts.

These are called the “superpowers”.  This list is by no means exhaustive, but instead illustrates some of the clarifications which the legislature intended to confer with the new law.  The purpose of these changes is to protect the principal and to clarify what previously was not in the statute.

How does this change in the law affect you?  Well, if you executed a Power of Attorney previous to the change, your Power of Attorney is still effective.  However, because of the change in Florida law, it is advisable to execute new documents to make sure your Power conforms and expresses your unique desires.

Illinois

Effective July 1, 2011, Illinois’ Power of Attorney law changed. The legislature’s goals were to provide more protection to the often-vulnerable principal from financial or physical abuse, and to make the forms more user-friendly.

How has the law changed?

With respect to an Illinois Power of Attorney for Health Care:

  • It incorporates into the new statutory Power of Attorney for Health Care form the latest changes in light of HIPAA and the new Disposition of Re­mains Act.
  •  It deletes use of the outdated medical term “irreversible coma” and replaces it with more medically accepted definitions used in the Health Care Surrogate Act.

With respect to an Illinois Power of Attorney for Property (financial decisions):

  • It elevates the agent’s standard of care, requires more oversight of the agent’s actions, and expands the remedies against an agent who abuses his or her fiduciary responsibilities.
  • It provides a notice to an agent under the Power of Attorney for Property that describes his or her responsibilities.
  • It provides default provisions for co-agents in a non-statutory Power of Attorney for Property.
  • It limits who may act as a witness to the execution of a Power of Attorney to avoid conflicts of interest.

If you executed a Power of Attorney in Illinois previous to this change, your Power of Attorney is still effective.  However, because of the change in Illinois law, it would be prudent to consult with us to make sure any Power still reflects your unique needs and desires.

Our firm has been assisting our clients with their estate planning needs for more than twenty-five years.  Please call us to discuss how this change in both Florida and Illinois law might affect your situation.

(Note: The information in this article is intended to be general in nature. Plan to discuss your particular circumstances with an attorney for how this might apply to you.)