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07/13/2017

Paid Sick Leave Laws Take Effect in Arizona, Georgia, Illinois and Minnesota (article)


As a reminder, several paid sick leave laws became effective on July 1, 2017 including Arizona and Georgia’s state laws, and those in the local government jurisdictions of the City of Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, and the Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

 

Arizona.  The Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act, which took effect on July 1, 2017, requires private sector employers to provide at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours their employees work in the state beginning the later of their date of hire, or July 1, 2017. Employers employing 15 or more employees must provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year; those employing 14 or fewer employees must provide up to 24 hours of paid sick leave per year.  For a summary of the Arizona law, see The Paid Sick Leave Crazy Quilt Continues to Grow, Benefit Beat, 12/7/2016. 

 

Since the law’s enactment, the Industrial Commission of Arizona issued FAQs, along with proposed regulations to implement the law.  Until such regulations are finalized, the guidance contained in the FAQs can be relied upon now.  In accordance with the law, employers are required to provide written notification to their employees informing them of their rights and responsibilities under the law.  In addition, employers must also post a notice explaining the law in a conspicuous location at its workplace.  The Industrial Commission has prepared a model sick leave notice which can used for the workplace posting requirement.

 

Georgia.  The 2017 Georgia Legislature passed the Employee Sick Leave Act (SB 201), which was signed into law by Governor Nathan Deal on May 8, 2017. 

 

Beginning July 1, 2017, both private and public sector employers employing 25 or more employees who offer a sick leave plan must, according to this law, make at least five days of sick leave available for the employee’s care of his/her immediate family member. This law does not require employers to offer sick leave. For purposes of this law, sick leave does not include paid short or long term disability.

 

Eligible employees are those who work for the employer at least 30 hours per week.   An employee would not be entitled to use sick leave until the leave is earned, and such use of sick leave must comply in accordance with the terms of the employer's sick leave policy.

 

This law is scheduled to be repealed in its entirety on July 1, 2020 unless extended by the Georgia legislature.

 

City of Chicago, Illinois. While the City of Chicago expanded its Minimum Wage Ordinance in June, 2016 to require private sector employers to provide a paid sick leave benefit to their employees, the effective date of the Ordinance was delayed until July 1, 2017. 

 

In a nutshell, under this Ordinance, eligible employees who work within the geographic boundaries of the City of Chicago will accrue one hour of sick leave for every 40 hours worked.   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.

 

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.  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.

 

For more information about this Ordinance, see Paid Sick Leave Laws in City of Chicago and Montgomery County, Benefit Beat, 8/8/2016.

 

Since the Ordinance’s enactment, the City has released final implementation rules, an overview of the Ordinance, a model workplace posting and a complaint form to be used by employees, all available on the City’s dedicated paid sick leave webpage.

 

Cook County, Illinois.  Beginning July 1, 2017, private sector employers who employ at least one employee who works within the geographic boundaries of Cook County are required to provide one hour of sick leave for every 40 hours worked. It should be noted that a large and growing number of municipalities have opted out of compliance with the County’s ordinance.


Eligible employees entitled to earn sick leave are those working at least 80 hours for a covered employer in any 120-day period. These individuals are entitled to accrue and use up to a maximum of 40 hours of earned sick leave per 12-month period. Additional carry-over is allowed to be used specifically for FMLA purposes.  Alternatively, an employer can front-load 40 hours of sick leave to a covered employee at the beginning of each accrual period. A covered employee can begin using accrued sick leave any time after the date of eligibility (worked 80 hours in any 120-day period).

 

Use of leave.  Leave can be taken to attend to one’s own needs or for the needs of a family member for the diagnosis or treatment of a physical or mental condition including preventive care services. In addition, leave may be taken to obtain services or care as a result of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking or to care for a family member due to the closure of a school or business for public health or safety reasons.

 

Employee notice requirement.  If the need for leave is foreseeable, the employee is obligated to provide up to a 7-day advanced notification to the employer. When the need for leave is not foreseeable, then the employee must notify the employer as soon as practicable.  For absences exceeding three consecutive days, an employer can require documentation to support the need for continued leave.

 

Employer notice obligations.  Covered employers are required to provide a notice to covered employees annually and upon their eligibility for the leave explaining their rights and obligations under the law.  Such notice may accompany the employee’s paycheck or deposit notification.

 

In addition, an employer must post a notice in its workplace which provides a description of the benefit, coverage, the rate of accrual, permissible uses and prohibited employer practices as well as contact information for the Cook County Commission on Human Rights.  The Commission has prepared a workplace poster that can be used for this purpose, which is available for downloading through its website, together with additional information about this earned sick leave ordinance.

 

City of Minneapolis.  The Minneapolis Sick and Safe Leave Ordinance requires private sector employers to provide sick leave to employees who work in the City of Minneapolis beginning July 1, 2017.  However, it is important to note that at the time of this writing, the Hennepin County Court has determined that the Ordinance only applies to private sector employer sitused in the City of Minneapolis, not to private sector employer situs outside the City of Minneapolis.  The Chamber of Commerce is appealing this decision. Thus, until a decision is rendered in this case, the rules will not be enforced against employers based outside their municipal boundaries. The Minnesota Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear this case on July 11, 2017. 

 

In accordance with this Ordinance, employers employing 6 or more employees are required to provide up to 48 hours of paid sick leave while employers employing 5 or less employees must provide unpaid leave.  Eligible employees are those who work a minimum of 80 hours per calendar year within the geographic boundaries of the City, including temporary and part-time employees. 

 

Accrual and Carry-over.  Sick leave begins to accrue at the date of hire or July 1, 2017, whichever is later.  Employees may begin using sick leave 90 calendar days following date of hire.  Employees can accrue a minimum of one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked up to a maximum of 48 hours in a calendar year.  Employees may carry over accrued unused sick leave to the following year, not to exceed 80 hours, unless the employer agrees to a higher amount.  Alternatively, employers may front-load 48 hours of sick leave following the initial 90 days of employment for use by the employee during the first year, and 80 hours of sick leave beginning each subsequent year.

 

Use of leave.  Leave can be taken for one’s own needs or for the needs of a family member for the diagnosis or treatment of a physical or mental condition including preventive care services. In addition,  leave can be taken 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. Leave may also be taken due to closure of a place of business, school or day care due to a public health emergency or inclement weather.

 

Employee notice requirement.  If the need for leave is foreseeable, the employee is obligated to provide up to a 7-day advanced notification to the employer. When the need for leave is not foreseeable, then the employee must notify the employer as soon as practicable.  For absences exceeding three consecutive days, an employer can require documentation to support the need for continued leave.

 

Employer obligations.  Employers are required to post a notice in a conspicuous place at any workplace or job site where any employee works, as well as including the notice in employee handbooks informing employees of their rights under the Ordinance.  In addition, employers must also:

  • Provide a record of available sick leave to an employee upon his or her request;
  • Retain for three years a record of sick leave usage;
  • Keep medical information about an employee or employee’s family confidential and disclose such information only to the affected employee or with permission from the affected employee.

Employer Resources.  The Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights provides Employer Resources on its website including an Employer Checklist, FAQs, implementation rules, and the required workplace postings available in English and five other languages; as well as a section devoted to Employee Resources.

 

City of St. Paul. The St. Paul Sick and Safe Time Ordinance requires private sector employers sitused in the City of St. Paul to provide sick leave to employees who work in the City, beginning July 1, 2017.  

 

Employers employing 24 or more employees are required to provide up to 48 hours of paid sick leave beginning July 1, 2017. Employers employing 23 or fewer employees must provide up to 48 hours of paid sick leave beginning January 1, 2018.

 

Employees entitled to leave are those who work at least 80 hours per year within the geographic boundaries of the City, including temporary and part-time employees.

 

Accrual and carry-over of leave.  Sick leave begins to accrue at the date of hire or July 1, 2017, whichever is later. Employees may begin using sick leave 90 calendar days following date of hire.  Employees accrue a minimum of one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked up to a maximum of 48 hours in a calendar or fiscal year.  Employees may carry over accrued unused sick leave to the following year but the total may not exceed 80 hours, unless the employer agrees to a higher amount. Alternatively, employers may front-load 48 hours of sick leave following the initial 90 days of employment for use by the employee during the first year, and 80 hours of sick leave beginning each subsequent year.

 

Use of leave.  Leave can be taken for one’s own needs or for the needs of a family member for the diagnosis or treatment of a physical or mental condition including preventive care services. In addition, leave can be taken 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.  Leave may also be taken due to closure of a place of business, school or day care due to a public health emergency or inclement weather.

 

Employee notice obligations.  Notice of an employee’s intent to take leave must be provided to the employer and include the expected duration of the absence. An employer may require an employee to comply with the employer’s usual and customary notice and procedural requirements for absences or for requesting leave.  An employer must allow an employee to use leave in the smallest amount of time tracked by the employer’s payroll system provided such increment is not more than four hours. The employer may require reasonable documentation that the leave is covered under the Ordinance for absences of more than three consecutive days.

 

Employer obligations. Employers must post a notice in a conspicuous place at any workplace or job site where any employee works, as well as include the notice in employee handbooks informing employees of their rights under the Ordinance. Employers must also:

  1. Provide a record of available sick leave to an employee upon his or her request;
  2. Retain for three years a record of sick leave usage; and
  3. Keep medical information about an employee or employee’s family confidential and disclose such information only to the affected employee or with permission from the affected employee.

Employer Resources.  The Department of Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity provides additional resources for employers on its webpage, including a summary of the rules,  FAQs, an Accrual and Balance tool, the required workplace posting in English and three other languages, as well as resources for employees.

 

 

 

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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