Back to School Cheat Sheet for Employers: Illinois

We’ve previously provided general guidance on the challenges facing students, parents and employers this fall. This is the first week of remote school for all Chicago Public School students, and this post focuses on what employers doing business in Illinois need to consider.

The same overarching analysis applies when determining your obligations if an employee is seeking leave to care for children who would be in school if not for COVID-19:

  • Does FFCRA apply?
  • Does a state or local Emergency COVID-19 leave law apply in our jurisdiction?
  • Does a paid sick leave law apply in our jurisdiction?
  • Does a company benefit or policy apply?

However, employers doing business in Chicago and Cook County should recognize that Chicago and Cook County both have sick leave laws. Both the Chicago Minimum Wage & Paid Sick Leave Ordinance (“Chicago Sick Leave”) and the Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance (“Cook County Sick Leave”) require employers to provide eligible employees with at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked (accrual is capped at 40 hours within any 12-month period, unless the employer’s policy allows for a greater accrual). Both ordinances allow eligible employees to use paid sick leave not only for illnesses suffered by the employee or his or her family member, but also if the employee’s workplace is closed by “order of a public official due to a public health emergency” or if the employee must care for a child whose school or place of care has been closed by such an order.

In Chicago and Cook County, employers have the following obligations under leave laws depending on the approach local school districts adopt:

  1. In-Person: If a child’s school is not closed due to COVID-19 related reasons, it is open for children to attend and FFCRA, Chicago Sick Leave, or Cook County Sick Leave is not available.
  2. Hybrid/Blending Learning: FFCRA, Chicago Sick Leave, or Cook County Sick Leave may be available on days or parts of days when a child is not permitted to attend school in person and must instead engage in remote learning.
  3. Only Remote: FFCRA, Chicago Sick Leave, or Cook County Sick Leave is available while a child’s school remains closed.
  4. Families opting out of school or choosing to participate in the remote learning program: FFCRA, Chicago Sick Leave, or Cook County Sick Leave is not available because a child’s school is not closed and paid sick leave is not available to take care of a child whose school is open for in-person attendance. However, if because of COVID-19, a child is under a quarantine order or has been advised by a health care provider to self-isolate or self-quarantine, paid sick leave is likely available.
Please reach out to one of our Labor & Employment attorneys for specific guidance.