Frequently Asked Questions. – Paid Sick Time
Paid Sick Time...It's Now the Law.
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Frequently Asked Questions.

When can I take a paid sick day?

Paid sick time may be used when you or a family member is sick, for routine doctor’s visits, when you or a family member is a victim of domestic or sexual violence or when schools or workplaces are closed by order of a public official due to a public health emergency, which could include a weather emergency.

Can I use a paid sick day because of COVID-19?

Your earned paid sick days can be used during the COVID-19 global pandemic to care for yourself or a sick family member, if your place of business is closed because of COVID-19, or because of the closure of a child's school or place of care because of COVID-19.

Can I take a paid sick day if my child is sick and has to stay home from school?

Yes. After earning the time, workers are guaranteed the right to take a paid sick day when a family member is sick or needs to go to the doctor.

If I’m going to use a paid sick day, when do I need to notify my employer?

If you know in advance that you are going to use paid sick time (such as for a doctor’s appointment), your employer can require up to 7 days notice before using the paid sick day. If you need to take a paid sick day suddenly, your employer may require notice as soon as possible before the start of your shift.

Do I need to find a replacement for my shift if I’m sick and need to use a paid sick day?

No. The law says it is illegal for your employer to ask you to find a replacement for your shift. It is also illegal for your boss to threaten or fire you if you request paid sick time.

Do I have to take a full day off when I’m sick?

No. The law states that an employer may set a reasonable minimum of paid sick time off, but this minimum can’t be more than 4 hours per day. For example, if you wake up sick and use paid sick time in the morning and want to come in for the rest of your shift in the afternoon once you start feeling better, your employer cannot make you take a full eight-hour sick day.

Do I have to use all of my paid sick time in a year?

At the end of a 12-month period, you can carry over to the next year up to half of the earned sick time that you haven’t used. There is a limit of 20 hours of sick time that can be rolled over into the next year.

If you are eligible for Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), you are allowed to carry over up to 40 hours of unused sick time to use for an FMLA reason, in addition to carrying over up to 20 hours of the unused sick time.

Do I qualify for paid sick time if I work at a small company?

Yes. The Paid Sick Time laws apply to employers of any size located in the City of Chicago and the Cook County suburbs*.

Do I qualify for paid sick time if I’m a union employee?

Paid sick time applies to union employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that was entered into after July 1, 2017 unless the union waives it. However, this law does not apply to employees in the construction industry covered by a CBA.

What if I’m a tipped employee or work on commission?

You qualify too! People working in jobs that receive tips or are paid on a commission basis must be paid at least the full minimum wage when using paid sick time.

Are there other workers who are excluded?

For the Chicago law, employees of any governmental entity other than the City of Chicago are excluded. This includes:

  • Chicago Public Schools
  • Chicago Park District
  • Chicago Transit Authority
  • City Colleges of Chicago
  • Chicago Housing Authority
  • The Public Building Commission

For Cook County, you may be excluded if you work for:

  • The U.S. government
  • An Indian tribe or a corporation wholly owned by an Indian tribe
  • The State of Illinois
  • Units of local government

What if my company already has a Paid Time Off policy? Do I get paid sick days too?

If your employer has a Paid Time Off Policy that you can use for sick time and it meets the requirements of the law, then your employer does not have to provide additional leave for sick time. Your employer’s Paid Time Off Policy may not punish you for using sick time. For example, you can’t be disciplined if you are unable to give notice when you need the leave.

How is “Family Member” defined for when you can use paid sick time?

Both the Chicago and Cook County ordinances have a broad “family member” definition that allows workers to use sick time to care for a chosen family member—anyone whose “close association with the Employee is the equivalent of a family relationship”—in addition to those related by blood. The definition below is from the ordinances:

“’Family member’ means a Covered Employee's child, legal guardian or ward, spouse under the laws of any state, domestic partner, parent, spouse or domestic partner's parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, or any other individual related by blood or whose close association with the Employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.

A child includes not only a biological relationship, but also a relationship resulting from an adoption, step-relationship, and/or foster care relationship, or a child to whom the Employee stands in loco parentis

A parent includes a biological, foster, stepparent or adoptive parent or legal guardian of an Employee, or a person who stood in loco parentis when the Employee was a minor child.”

Some Cook County suburbs have voted to opt-out of the Paid Sick Time law, denying working people this important right.

Click here to see if the suburb where you work requires Paid Sick Time. You can also call the Town Hall of the suburb where you work.

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