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The Illinois Employee Sick Leave Act takes effect on January 1, 2017. This Act will affect employers outside the city of Chicago.  The Chicago Sick Leave Ordinance, set to become effective on July 1, 2017, outlines sick leave requirements for employers in Chicago.

In a nutshell, under the Illinois Employee Sick Leave Act, if an employer does not offer sick leave, it is not required to start offering it now under the Act. If an employer offers paid time off (PTO) that can be used for any reason—personal, illness or vacation—this law will not change its allocation. If an employer offers sick leave—not PTO—but actual sick leave, the employer cannot limit its use to just employees, but now must allow employees to use up to 50 percent of that time for their families, if needed.  Employers may track the sick leave usage to ensure that their employees’ family use of sick leave is limited to 50 percent.

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Under the Act’s definitions, “personal sick leave benefits" means time accrued and available to an employee to be used as a result of absence from work due to personal illness, injury, or medical appointment. It does not include absences from work for which compensation is provided through an employer's plan.  An employee’s personal sick leave benefits could cover absences due to an illness, injury, or medical appointment of the employee's child, spouse, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent, or stepparent, for reasonable periods of time as the employee's attendance may be necessary, on the same terms upon which the employee is able to use sick leave benefits for the employee's own illness or injury.

The Act does not prevent an employer from providing greater sick leave benefits than are provided for under the Act. The Act also does not extend the maximum period of leave to which an employee is entitled under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, regardless of whether the employee receives sick leave compensation during that leave.

As with all leave statutes, the employer is not allowed to deny the use of benefits or discharge, suspend or penalize an employee in retaliation for using the benefits provided under the Act.

If you have questions about this or any other employment-related issue, please contact Joseph F. Spitzzeri at 312-984-0683.