November 9, 2023

City Council Passes Historic Chicago Paid Time Off Ordinance

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

CHICAGO – Today, Chicago City Council passed the Chicago Paid Time Off ordinance which guarantees up to five days of paid time off and five days of sick time for all of Chicago’s workers. The Chicago Paid Time Off Ordinance is the most progressive paid time off legislation at the municipal level in the United States.  

“Today is a great day for the workers of Chicago, the businesses of Chicago, and the future of Chicago,” said Mayor Brandon Johnson. “This ordinance, accomplished through compromise and collaboration, is an important step on the path to revitalizing the economy of our great city.  

“Working families are the lifeblood of our city and I am proud that our city has delivered for them once again.” 

Research shows that paid sick time and paid time off reduce costs related to absenteeism and turnover for businesses. Workers with paid time off can stay in their jobs longer, earning higher wages they can then spend in their local communities. A lack of paid leave policies increasingly and disproportionately contributes to economic insecurity among lower-paid workers and their families.   

“Working class Chicagoans deserve a day off when they need it,” said Ald. Mike Rodriguez, chair of the Workforce Development Committee and sponsor of the Chicago Paid Time Off Ordinance. “The Chicago Paid Time Off Ordinance is a common-sense, compromise approach that supports working people, helps businesses by increasing worker productivity and worker retention, and boosts our economy. I am proud to have sponsored this historic piece of legislation.”  

The business organizations supporting the Paid Leave ordinance include the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Business Leadership Council, Chicago Urban League and Chatham Business Association. Individual businesses supporting the ordinance include Back of the Yards Coffeehouse, Chicago Fair Trade, Chicago Dance Supply, Mashallah, The Quarry Events Center, Imani Bakery and Windy City Whiskey & Barbecue. The Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Chamber said, “The Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (IHCC) acknowledges the efforts made to provide relief for small businesses with fewer than 50 employees, while we still have some concerns, we support the paid leave ordinance.”   

Negotiations resulted in several compromises within the proposal, including changes to the number of days required, an extended ramp up of the private right of action, and an exemption for small businesses with less than 50 employees from paying out unused paid time off. 

The Paid Leave Ordinance comes on the heels of major legislative accomplishments for the Johnson Administration since taking office. In May, City Council unanimously approved a plan to make permanent an outdoor dining program that helped Chicago restaurants and bars survive the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this month, two pro-business ordinances around outdoor dining and reduced permitting requirements were introduced that will help support small business and development in Chicago’s communities. 

More than five years of community organizing culminated in the passage of the Bring Chicago Home Ordinance on Tuesday of this week which will bring a binding referendum to Chicago’s voters in March. In October, the Johnson Administration spearheaded the passage of the One Fair Wage ordinance making Chicago the first major city to independently abolish the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers.  

The Johnson Administration has also championed pilot programs and working groups to lay the groundwork for future legislation. The City Council approved an ordinance in October establishing a working group to develop a framework for the implementation of Treatment Not Trauma. The Mental Health System Working Group is tasked with developing a plan to expand non-police responses to mental health crises and reopening the city’s shuttered mental health clinics. The Plow the Sidewalks Pilot Program passed Council in July, which established a working group to develop a pilot program for a City-run snow removal program.