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Chicago approves paid sick leave

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Chicago restaurants will soon have to provide paid sick leave under an ordinance unanimously approved by the Chicago City Council Wednesday.

The ordinance will be enforced starting next July, and applies to virtually all private sector employers except construction companies. Employees will earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked, with a cap of five days per year. Language in the ordinance notes that two-thirds of restaurant waitstaff and cooks have admitted to coming to work sick, and that 43% of the local workforce is not entitled to paid sick time.

Chicago employees can use the leave time to care for themselves or a family member. Restaurant workers will not be expected to find a replacement to fill their shifts during the leave, according to the ordiance.

Although paid sick leave would increase employment costs by 0.7% to 1.5%, Alderman Ameya Pawar has predicted that the savings in turnover costs will offset the higher cost. However, some members of the business and retail community feel it’s just one more cost restaurant owners cannot afford.

“Employers are at a tipping point,” Tanya Triche, vice president and general counsel of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, told DNAinfo Chicago. “We cannot provide the jobs, pay the wages and invest in local communities while City Hall layers on one cost mandate after another.”

Chicago is the 25th city to approve paid sick leave legislation, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

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