CHICAGO – Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot along with Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) Commissioner Rosa Escareno today reminded all of Chicago’s businesses and workers about the critical labor protections that are coming into effect on July 1, 2020. Under the new protections, the Chicago Fair Workweek Ordinance will give predictable schedules to low-income workers in certain industries throughout Chicago. Furthermore, Chicago’s minimum wage will increase from $13.00 to either $13.50 or $14.00 per hour, depending on the size of the business, on the path to $15.00 per hour by 2021. Together, these landmark labor laws reflect Mayor Lightfoot’s ongoing commitment to Chicago’s most vulnerable workers and are part of her mission to lift all Chicagoans out of poverty and economic hardship.
“These new protections are the result of a long-time collaboration between businesses, industry groups and other organizations across healthcare, hospitality, manufacturing, and retail industries,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “Now more than ever, we must ensure that Chicago’s workers are not only protected but that they have the stability, fairness and reliability they deserve.”
With more than 200,000 workers going back to work in phase four of the Protecting Chicago reopening framework, Mayor Lightfoot and BACP today also launched the “City for Workers” campaign. Through this effort, BACP’s Office of Labor Standards will use a data-driven approach to target communities with high proportions of essential and vulnerable workers covered by Chicago’s labor laws and to provide them with information and resources to take advantage of these protections. In addition to the new minimum wage and fair scheduling provisions, this campaign will inform residents of Paid Sick Leave requirements and the new Anti-Retaliation Ordinance. Passed in May, this legislation prohibits employers from retaliating against workers for staying home while sick or exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.
”Chicago is proud to be a City for Workers,” said Rosa Escareno, BACP Commissioner. “We are committed to protecting and keeping safe our most vulnerable, and that commitment cannot waver even as we face unprecedented challenges. As we enter phase four, workers must know that the City has their back as they return to work.”
Starting July 1, the new minimum wage will be $14.00 per hour for employees at businesses with more than 20 employees, and $13.50 at businesses with four to 20 workers. There are also increased minimum wages for youth workers and tipped workers – details can be found here. All Domestic Workers are also guaranteed Chicago’s minimum wage – even those working for employers with fewer than four workers. Furthermore, when tipped workers’ wages plus tips do not equal at least the minimum wage, their employer must make up the difference.
Also on July 1, the Chicago Fair Workweek Ordinance will require that employers in certain industries with over 100 total workers (250 for a restaurant or non-profit) provide predictable work schedules and pay workers if they make last-minute changes to their schedules. Employers will be required to provide work schedules to Covered Employees with 10 days’ notice and must pay a single hour’s additional wage for any hours added, changed, or cancelled with less than 10 days’ notice. They also must pay half of a worker’s wages for any hours cancelled with less than 24 hours’ notice. Workers also have a right to decline unscheduled hours, and to decline hours that begin within 10 hours of the end of the previous day’s shift.
“These landmark protections for Chicago’s workers will provide stability and peace of mind to hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans,” said Susan Sadlowski Garza, 10th Ward Alderwoman and Chairwoman of the Committee on Workforce Development. “I am proud of the victories we have won and want to thank the Mayor and representatives of labor, businesses, industries and other organizations that came together to keep our workforce strong and safe. Getting to this point was truly a collaborative effort and an example what good government looks like.”
BACP implements, enforces and conducts outreach for Chicago’s labor laws through the Office of Labor Standards, created in 2019. Since 2019, BACP has received over 500 labor standards complaints and collected fines totaling $109,000 from 137 individual Paid Sick Leave and Minimum Wage cases. Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak and in preparation for these new labor laws, the Office has held over 25 webinars and trainings, including individual trainings for members of various industry groups. Additional webinars will be held next week to provide an overview of the new Fair Workweek and Minimum Wage regulations – register and learn more here. This week, the Director of Labor Standards also sent a letter to all Chicago businesses to remind them of the new regulations effective July 1.
“The COVID pandemic has made it clear to everyone that many of the lowest paid workers are the most essential to keeping our city moving,” said Bob Reiter, President of the Chicago Federation of Labor. “On Wednesday, hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans will get a raise and protection from scheduling abuse at a time when they need it most. The Chicago labor movement is proud to be a part of the movement to pass these landmark pieces of legislation and ensure this city continues to stand on the side of working people.”
While it necessary to move forward with these critical labor protections, the City recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed significant challenges on Chicago’s businesses. In response, the City passed legislation to delay the Private Cause of Action section of the Fair Workweek Ordinance until January 2021. This will allow businesses to come into compliance with this new regulation without facing private lawsuits during the first six months. Additionally, the COVID-19 Pandemic Rule exempts work schedule changes that are specifically due to the pandemic from certain provisions of the Chicago Fair Workweek Ordinance.
To learn more about minimum wage, Fair Workweek, Anti-Retaliation and all Chicago labor laws, visit chicago.gov/laborstandards.