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Ordinance To Require Paid Sick Leave Moves Forward In City Council

By Stephen Gossett in News on Jun 17, 2016 3:02PM

Facebook / Arise Chicago

Nearly all Chicago employers would be required to grant workers paid sick leave under a measure approved Thursday by a City Council committee.

Under the proposal, workers would receive one paid sick hour for every 40 hours worked, with a cap of five sick days per year. Most part-time workers would qualify as well, as employees who work at least 80 hours over four months would be included. (Some exemptions are in place, including one for the construction industry.) The measure heads to a full Council vote next Wednesday.

A coalition that included local labor organization Arise Chicago introduced a similar bill in 2014, which failed to clear committee at the time, but led to a task force that spearheaded the current bill. Adam Kader, Worker Center Program Director at Arise Chicago, said Thursday's passage through committee was a critical hurdle. "The bill remained in tact. The main lobby groups opposing it weren't able to add amendments. We're definitely pleased," he told Chicagoist.

Alderman Tom Tunney, 44th Ward, on Thursday reflected the objections of pro-business factions, claiming the measure would raise operating costs and hurt competition. But Kader denies that small businesses would face adverse consequences. "We didn't put forth anything unrealistic. Hurting businesses doesn't further employees' interests. We believe companies will adapt and remain robust. Less turnover will create savings."

The bill is expected to pass the City Council, which would make Chicago the 27th city to approve such a measure. "There should be a federal law. One way that can happen is by proving viability at a local level," Kader told Chicagoist.