Schools and Park Districts Only Granted More Time to Comply with Cook County Paid Leave Ordinance

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Schools and Park Districts Only Granted More Time to Comply with Cook County Paid Leave Ordinance

Mar 20, 2024

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Our firm’s February 29, 2024 Law Alert reported on a proposed amendment to the Cook County Paid Leave Ordinance that, if passed by the Board of Commissioners, would have exempted school districts and park districts from the Paid Leave Ordinance indefinitely. However, on March 14, 2024, the Board of Commissioners passed a revised version of the amendment, which exempts school districts and parks districts from the ordinance’s requirements, but only until January 1, 2025.

The inclusion of a sunset date for the exemption appears intended to give schools and park districts additional time to prepare for the Ordinance’s significant cost and staffing implications. Rulemaking relative to the amendment is the anticipated next step, and at least one Commissioner has stated that they intend to actively solicit comments and feedback from schools and park districts.

As a reminder, similar to when the Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance took effect on July 1, 2017, home rule municipalities may opt out of the Paid Leave Ordinance. Many home rule municipalities opted out of the Earned Sick Leave Ordinance on behalf of all employers operating within their territorial limits. Schools and park districts located within a home rule municipality that opts out of the Paid Leave Ordinance for all employers, or for school and park districts within the municipality, would not have to comply with the Ordinance’s requirements.

Otherwise, schools and park districts located in Cook County should prepare to participate in any updated rulemaking process and also begin preparations for compliance with the Ordinance by January 1, 2025. Because this deadline falls during the winter break period for schools (and not at the beginning of the fiscal year) and right after the holiday break for park districts, compliance measures will need to be in place well ahead of the sunset date. Since schools and park districts are exempt from compliance until January 1, 2025, subject to any rulemaking to the contrary, we believe that collective bargaining agreements (“CBA”) in effect as of January 1, 2025, will be grandfathered until their next respective expiration date, at which time the Ordinance’s requirements will be subject to bargaining. If the leave provisions in a CBA do not meet the minimum requirements of the Ordinance, an express waiver provision must be included in the successor CBA.

Schools and park districts are encouraged to communicate with their County Commissioners about the impact of the Ordinance on their operations and to offer suggestions for any future rulemaking. In addition, schools and park districts may wish to engage in additional communication and advocacy efforts to seek possible further amendments to the Paid Leave Ordinance or an opt-out action by their respective home rule municipality.

Please contact your Robbins Schwartz attorney to discuss strategies to address the amended Cook County Paid Leave Ordinance. We will provide further updates as appropriate.