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August 8, 2016

Paid Sick Leave Laws in City of Chicago and Montgomery County (article)

In the ever-growing list of state and local jurisdictions enacting a paid sick leave ordinance, the City of Chicago is the most recent jurisdiction to join.  While Montgomery County, Maryland enacted a paid sick leave ordinance last year, its implementation date is now around the corner.  Following are brief summaries of these laws.

 

City of Chicago

Amendments to the Chicago Minimum Wage Ordinance to provide for paid sick leave was unanimously approved by the City Council and Mayor Rahm Emanuel on June 22, 2016 and becomes effective July 1, 2017.  While this Ordinance does not take effect for some time and while implementing guidance will surely be issued between now and then, it is a good idea to begin reviewing existing leave plans to determine what changes may be necessary.

 

For purposes of the Ordinance:

  • A covered employer refers to any individual, partnership, association, corporation, limited liability company, business trust, or any person or group of persons who gainfully employs at least one covered employee and maintains a licensed business facility within the geographic boundaries of the City.
  • A covered employee is one who, in any particular two-week period, performs at least two hours of work for the covered employer while physically present within the geographic boundaries of the City.  Covered employees eligible for paid sick leave are those who work a minimum of 80 hours within any 120 day period. 

 Use of leave.  Paid sick leave can be taken to attend to the employee’s own needs or the needs of a family member for the diagnosis or treatment of a physical or mental condition or preventive care services.  For this purpose, a family member includes:

  • A biological, adopted or foster child, stepchild or legal guardian or ward, or a child to whom the employee stands in loco parentis;
  • A legal spouse or a domestic partner;
  • A biological, foster, stepparent or adoptive parent, a legal guardian of an employee or a person who stood in loco parentis when the employee was a minor child, or the parent of the spouse or domestic partner;
  • A grandparent;
  • A grandchild; or
  • A sibling.

In addition, leave may be taken upon the closure of business or school due to a public health emergency. Leave can also be used for medical or psychological services, relocation services, victim advocacy or other legal services that may be needed as a result of domestic abuse or sexual assault.

 

Amount, accrual and carry-over.  Employees will accrue at least one hour of sick leave for every 40 hours worked beginning on the later of 1) the effective date of the Ordinance or 2) the first day of employment.  The amount of paid sick leave is capped at 40 accrued hours per 12-month period unless the employer provides for a higher limit.  At the end of a 12-month accrual period, employees must be allowed to carry over a maximum of 20 unused hours to the next 12-month period.  Employers subject to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) must permit up to 40 hours of unused accrued leave, in addition to the 20 hour per 12-month period amount, to carry forward for FMLA purposes.

 

Notification.  Employers are required to provide a notice to employees about the leave that explains entitlement, use of leave, accrual and the right to file a complaint.  If the need for leave is foreseeable, employers may require a 7-day advance notification of the need for leave.  If the leave is unforeseeable, employees are required to notify their employer as soon as practicable.  Reasonable documentation of the leave may be required in the event of an absence lasting 3 or more consecutive work days.

 

Montgomery County, Maryland

The Earned Sick and Safe Leave Law (Chapter 27 the County Code; also see Fact Sheet) was passed by the Montgomery County Council on June 23, 2015 and takes effect October 1, 2016.

 

Covered employers.  The law applies to all private and public sector employers operating and doing business within the County who employs 1 or more individuals in addition to the owner. 

 

Eligible employees are those who work for an employer in the County, including a domestic worker.  Independent contractors and individuals who do not have a regular work schedule, or are employed by a temporary placement agency, or regularly work less than 8 hours per week are not eligible.

 

Use of leave.  Upon the oral or written request by an employee, leave can be taken to attend to one’s own needs or the needs of a family member for the diagnosis or treatment of a physical or mental condition or preventive care services.  For this purpose, a family member includes:

  • A biological, adopted or foster child, stepchild or legal ward, or a child to whom the employee stands in loco parentis;
  • A biological, foster, stepparent or adoptive parent or legal guardian of an employee or an employee’s spouse;
  • A grandparent or spouse;
  • A grandchild; or
  • A sibling.

In addition, leave may be taken upon the closure of business or school due to a public health emergency. Leave can also be used for medical or psychological services, relocation services, victim advocacy or other legal services that may be needed as a result of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking.

 

Amount of leave, accrual and carryover.  Employees accrue at least one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked, beginning on the first day of employment.  An employer may restrict a newly hired employee from using sick leave during an initial 90-day probationary period.

 

For employers with 5 or more employees, accrued leave is capped at 56 hours per calendar year; use of sick leave is capped at 80 hours per calendar year.  For employers with fewer than 5 employees, accrued leave is capped at 32 hours of paid sick leave and 24 hours of unpaid sick leave per calendar year.  Use of paid or unpaid sick leave is capped at 80 hours per calendar year.

 

At the beginning of a calendar year, an employer can opt to front load the full amount of sick leave that an employee would earn in a calendar year.  An individual can carry over up to 56 hours of sick leave to the following year.  Earned sick leave need not be paid upon termination of the employee.

 

Notification.  Employers are required to provide a notice to employees about the leave that explains entitlement, use of leave, accrual and the right to file a complaint. Such notification may be satisfied by posting a notice in each workforce location, by including it in an employee handbook and by providing it to new employees upon hire. Employers must also provide employees with a written statement of earned sick leave each time wages are paid or maintain a system where employees may access their own earned leave balances. 

 

Employees must notify the employer of the need to use sick leave as soon as practicable.  Reasonable documentation of the leave may be required in the event of an absence lasting 3 or more consecutive work days.

 

The information contained in this article is provided as general guidance and may be affected by changes in law or regulation. This article is not intended to replace or substitute for accounting or other professional advice. Please consult a CBIZ professional. This information is provided as-is with no warranties of any kind. CBIZ shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever in connection with its use and assumes no obligation to inform the reader of any changes in laws or other factors that could affect the information contained herein.  

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