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.


(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).


(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


(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.)