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Godfrey & Kahn Updates

It’s contagious: Sick leave laws spread across the country, taking effect July 1

June 01, 2017

Keyboard and appleStates and municipalities across the country continue to pass paid sick leave laws, leaving multi-state employers with the task of addressing a variety of sick leave requirements. Six sick leave laws passed last year will go into effect beginning on July 1, 2017:


Covered employers must allow eligible employees to earn and accrue paid sick leave up to a cap that is based on the employer’s size.


Covered employers that offer paid sick leave to employees must allow employees to use up to 5 hours of their sick leave to care for an immediate family member.

City of Chicago and Cook County, Illinois

Covered employers are required to allow eligible employees to earn and accrue up to 40 hours of paid sick leave each year. Recall that Illinois also passed a state-wide sick leave law that took effect on January 1, 2017.

Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota

Covered employers are required to allow eligible employees to earn and accrue up to 80 hours of paid sick leave every two years. The ordinances for each city are worded differently in several areas:

  • Minneapolis exempts employers with five or less employees from the sick leave mandate.
  • St. Paul’s ordinance incorporates a private right of action, which allows employees to seek damages if their employer retaliates against them for exercising their rights under the law.
  • The definitions under each ordinance are different. For example, the Minneapolis ordinance specifically includes guardians and wards as “family members.”
  • Through June 30, 2022, newly established businesses in Minneapolis have a one year grace period before they must start providing paid sick leave. The St. Paul ordinance provides a six-month paid sick leave grace period to newly established employers until December 31, 2023. Employers eligible for the grace period in both cities must provide unpaid sick leave to eligible employees beginning on July 1, 2017.

Numerous sick leave laws took effect in January 2017, and at least five states are considering or voting on their own sick leave law proposals, including Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada and Rhode Island. 

Employers with employees in jurisdictions with sick leave laws must ensure compliance with the applicable mandates. Some sick leave laws require employers to allow part-time, seasonal and temporary employees the opportunity to earn and accrue sick leave. Many, but not all, sick leave laws permit employers to rely on pre-existing paid time off policies if they meet the respective sick leave law requirements. In addition, employers must comply with the notice provisions set forth under each law. For example, some laws require the posting of a simple poster. Others, like California’s sick leave law, require that employers (1) provide employees with a specific notice document, and (2) include sick leave balances on employees’ paystubs each pay period.

If you have specific questions regarding the application of paid sick leave laws to your workforce, please feel free to contact any member of our team.

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