Earned paid sick leave will soon become a reality for all workers in Cook County.
The Cook County Board approved the paid sick days legislation Wednesday. The ordinance, which takes effect in July 2017, will cover 441,000 workers outside of Chicago in Cook County.
"Having paid sick days shouldn't be a benefit, it should be a right, and not only for those that work in Chicago but also those that work in Cook County," said Christina Padilla, a food service worker and Arise Chicago member. "It feels great that we won that right today."
In June, the city of Chicago approved a similar paid sick leave law. Chicago's ordinance, also set to take effect next July, will cover an additional 460,000 workers.
Under the Chicago and Cook County ordinances, employers have to provide their workers with one hour of paid sick time for every 40 hours worked. Workers can earn up to five paid sick days each year.
Cook County Commissioners Bridget Gainer and Jesus "Chuy" Garcia co-sponsored the earned sick days ordinance.
"We are grateful for the dedication of Commissioner Gainer and Commissioner Garcia, who led this effort and won passage just months after Chicago's sick time victory back in June," said Melissa Josephs, director of equal opportunity policy for Women Employed. "All employees - no matter their occupation -- should have the peace of mind to know they can take time off work for their own illness or to care for a sick family member without fear of losing their job or a day's pay. This action ensures that protections like these go beyond the city limits and benefit suburban Cook County families."
Women Employed is a member group of the Cook County Earned Sick Time Coalition, which reports that Cook County is now the largest U.S. county to adopt a mandatory paid sick leave law. Thirty-seven jurisdictions, including Cook County, have approved such legislation, according to the National Partnership for Women & Families.
"Less than one month after the St. Paul City Council approved Minnesota's second paid sick days law, the Cook County Board of Commissioners in Illinois today approved a measure that will guarantee hundreds of thousands of additional workers the right to earn paid sick time. This victory signals tremendous Midwest momentum in response to growing nationwide demand for this common sense policy. The Midwest region will now have four jurisdictions with paid sick days laws - and all of these laws were enacted this year," the partnership's President Debra Ness said in a statement.
"The tide is certainly turning when it comes to paid sick days access in this country, thanks to the tireless efforts of groups like Women Employed, Arise Chicago and the many other faith, labor and advocacy organizations that made today's victory in Cook County possible," she added. "Their determination, along with the leadership of lawmakers and business owners, is making a real difference. But, still, 36 percent of the private sector workforce struggles without paid sick days, and that must change. Congress must pass the Healthy Families Act and establish the national standard the country needs."