Chicago City Council approves expanded paid time off ordinance

Friday, November 10, 2023
City Council approves expanded paid leave ordinance
At a Chicago City Council meeting, aldermen approved a measure to give workers more paid leave, a total of 10 days each year.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Chicago City Council approved an ordinance to expand paid time off for workers in the city.

The ordinance doubles the amount of paid leave from five days to 10, a plan some describe as one of the most generous policies in the nation.

"The fact is workers deserve more days off and paid days off, so they can be with their family when needed," said 42nd Alderman Michael Rodriguez.

"Today is a good day," said Cherita Ellen, president and CEO of Women Employed. "With this ordinance, we are taking a stand for working families."

Rodriguez is behind the ordinance, which doubles the amount of paid time off to 10 days off a year for all Chicago workers: five sick days and five vacation days, including some roll-over days. It will go into effect on December 31.

"This policy not only helps workers, it helps businesses. Study after study shows paid leave increases worker productivity and worker retention," said Ald. Rodriguez.

"This begins to rectify the historical lack of worker protections amongst disinvested communities," said Mayor Brandon Johnson.

After an outcry from the business community, including the Illinois Restaurant Association, the Johnson Administration tweaked the ordinance to provide some payout exemptions for smaller businesses with 50 or fewer employees.

"They will be exempt from the payout provisions and businesses with 50-100 will have two years to comply with those payout provisions," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez and the Johnson administration said the compromise is supported by a more than a dozen businesses and some associations, but not nearly all.

"They're listening, but they're going to do what they want. What I'd love to see is just slow it down. And let's actually create a law that everybody can stand by," said Scott Weiner, co-owner of the Fifty/50 Restaurant Group.

Weiner is also the vice chairman of the Illinois Restaurant Association. While he supports the leave portion of the ordinance, Weiner said the measure does not protect businesses from class action, not just restaurant groups based in Chicago, but anyone that does business in Chicago," he said.

Weiner and other businesses said between the new tip ordinance and paid leave, companies will likely pass on their higher costs to their customers. Rodriguez doesn't buy it.

"The fact is, is that the sky will not fall workers will do better and businesses will do better with this law as well," Rodriguez said.

Shortly after 6 p.m., the city council passed the ordinance in a vote of 36-12.

But a coalition of nearly a dozen business groups said the "City Council sent a very clear message that they do not support Chicago's business community," and added the measure "Will devastate Chicago businesses, especially small businesses, and make it even more difficult to attract and retain businesses like restaurants, grocery stores and pharmacies in underserved neighborhoods."

"We have to protect workers, yes. But we also gotta look to protect the business who hire them," said 9th Ward Alderman Anthony Beale.

"A lot of these businesses are everyday people just like us struggling every day to survive," said 38th Ward Alderman Nicholas Sposato.