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Attention Chicago Businesses – The Chicago Fair Workweek Is Coming

By Karuna S. Brunk

Just as employers are starting to reopen the workplace, the Chicago Fair Workweek Ordinance hits Chicago businesses effective July 1, 2020.  Let’s review the Ordinance:

Covered Employers & Employees  Generally, employers with at least 100 employees “globally” (not those exclusively within the Chicago city limits) or 250 employees for nonprofit corporations are covered by the Ordinance as long as they employ at least 50 “covered employees.”  A “covered employee” earns $50,000 or less (salaried) or less than $26.00 per hour (hourly) and spends the majority of his work time in Chicago.  The Ordinance covers restaurants if they have at least 30 locations and 250 employees “globally.”  The following industries are covered by the Ordinance:

  • Building services (janitorial, security, maintenance)
  • Healthcare
  • Hotels
  • Manufacturing
  • Restaurants
  • Retail stores
  • Warehouse services (storage, loading, distribution, delivery)

What Is Required?  The Ordinance requires the following of employers:

  • Pre-employment: Employers must provide covered employees with a good faith estimate in writing of the projected days and hours of work.
  • Notice of Work Schedules: Employers must provide covered employees with at least 10 days advance notice of their work schedule (shifts and on call status). Schedules must be posted and transmitted electronically to employees upon request.
  • Right to Decline: If the employer makes changes to the schedule after the 10-day deadline by adding hours, the employee may refuse to work the previously unscheduled hours.
  • Predictability Pay: Employees receive one hour additional pay when an employer adds hours to a shift or a shift’s time, or date is changed with no change to the number of hours worked after the 10-day deadline has elapsed.
  • Pay for Cancelled Hours and Shifts: Covered employees must receive no less than 50% of their pay for any hours that are cancelled within less than 24 hours’ notice from the beginning of the shift during which the canceled hours were to take place.  If the employer cancels the entire shift, then the covered employees gets 50% of their pay for the entire shift.
  • Right to Rest: Employees have the right to decline shifts that begin less than 10 hours after the end of the previous day’s shift, and if a covered employee agrees to work such a shift, she is entitled to 1.25 times her regular base pay rate.

And what about COVID-19?  Well, the Chicago rules provide that the Ordinance will still go into effect on July 1.  However, the City did make exceptions to the employer requirements in cases in which COVID-19 causes the employer to change its operating hours, operating plans, or the goods or services provided by the employer which would result in schedule changes for employees.  Additionally, although the Ordinance does allow employees to file suit for violations, the City has delayed this private right of enforcement until January 1, 2021.  The City can still enforce the Ordinance and issue fines ranging from $300 to $500 per day, per employee.

Due to the complexity of this new ordinance and its application to particular industries and businesses, we suggest that employers contact a qualified attorney for guidance on changes to workplace policies and procedures.

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