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Statement from Business Groups on Passage of Chicago Paid Leave Ordinance

By November 9, 2023No Comments

CHICAGO – We are extremely disappointed that members of the City Council ignored the concerns of the business community, dismissed our efforts to reach a compromise, and rushed to pass the poorly drafted paid leave ordinance, forcing employers of every size and sector to comply with the most expensive and complicated form of paid leave in the country in only eight weeks. In passing this ordinance, City Council sent a very clear message that they do not support Chicago’s business community, which drives our city’s economy, employs our residents, and creates revenue to invest in critical city services.

Throughout the incredibly flawed and rushed negotiation process, the business community remained committed to reaching a compromise that was fair for both workers and employers, going as far as proposing a policy that would guarantee Chicago workers one of the most generous forms of paid leave in the country, but proponents refused to compromise meaningfully at every step of the process.

In their effort to quickly pass this ordinance as opposition continued to grow, proponents created a policy that 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.

The proposal that City Council approved today:

  • Fails to adequately protect small neighborhood employers by subjecting them to penalties and private right of action exposure.
  • Exposes employers of all sizes, non-profits, faith-based organizations, safety net hospitals, and many other critical anchors of our communities to costly lawsuits for minor infractions.
  • Ignores the complexities of implementing a never-before-seen paid leave policy that will require employers to adjust payroll systems in less than eight weeks or face exorbitant fines on day one.
  • Contains costly and administratively burdensome unused paid time off payout provisions that are not required in any other major jurisdiction in the country, including Illinois, New York City, and Los Angeles.
  • Includes an ambiguous definition for a “covered employee” that not only includes workers based in Chicago, but also suburban workers, business travelers, and convention attendees visiting Chicago, requiring any employer – even those operating outside the city – to provide the amount of paid time off dictated by the ordinance or run the risk of costly litigation.
  • Conflicts with the already burdensome Restrictive Scheduling Ordinance, requiring employers to pay enhanced wages to employees asked to fill schedules for those taking paid leave and forcing employers to pay more than double in labor costs through no fault of their own.

In just the last month, City Council also voted to eliminate tip credits and quadruple the real estate transfer tax. With this added burden of the most expensive and complicated paid leave policy in the country, as well as continued supply chain and labor challenges, persistent crime, costly regulations, and skyrocketing property taxes, it is death by a thousand cuts. Employers in every neighborhood will be left with no choice but to reduce operations and the number of employees, take their operations and jobs elsewhere, or close. Today, City Council has cemented Chicago’s status as a hostile place for employers of every size and sector to do business and continued their direction of discouraging economic development, investment, and job growth in the communities that need it most.

–           Andersonville Chamber of Commerce

–           Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce

–           Greater Englewood Chamber of Commerce

–           Hospitality Business Association of Chicago

–           Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association

–           Illinois Manufacturers’ Association

–           Illinois Restaurant Association

–           Illinois Retail Merchants Association

–           Little Village Chamber of Commerce

–           Pilsen Chamber of Commerce

–           Building Owners and Managers Association of Chicago