November 22, 2023

Local, State, and Canada Updates

Is it really Thanksgiving tomorrow…already? Not to mention, 2024 is right around the corner. We can only imagine the new laws that will come about next year! We want to take this moment to thank our clients, broker partners, co-workers, and our families. We wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving and the very best during this holiday season!

Chicago

Chicago Paid Leave and Paid Sick Leave Ordinance for 2024

In early November, the Windy City passed the new Chicago Paid Leave and Paid Sick and Safe Leave Ordinance. This new ordinance will be in effect as of December 31, 2023, replacing the existing Chicago Paid Sick Leave Ordinance. Employees will be able to earn up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per 12-month period and will now also be able to accrue up to 40 hours of paid leave per 12-month period, for any reason.

As employees will now have an entitlement totaling up to 80 hours of paid leave, it is pertinent for Chicago employers to assess their policies for any necessary changes before the year is over. The new ordinance applies to all employers with employees in Illinois and covers employees who perform at least two hours of work (in any two-week period) physically within the city boundaries.

Covered employees will accrue one hour of paid sick leave and one hour of paid leave for every 35 hours worked and will be accrued in whole hour increments. More generous policies may retain a monthly accrual period. Employees can carry over up to 80 hours of paid sick leave and 16 hours of paid leave to the following 12-month period. Employers may also frontload 40 hours of both paid sick leave and paid leave in a 12-month period, in which case any unused time would not carry over to the next 12-month period. However, if frontloading, employers are still obligated to carry over up to 80 hours of unused paid sick leave to the next accrual period.

General paid leave must be paid out upon separation or when an employee is transferred outside of the city whereas unused sick leave does not need to be paid out. There are a few exceptions to this rule depending on employer size:

  • Small employers (1-50 covered employees) are not required to pay out unused paid leave upon separation or transfer.
  • Medium employers (51-100 covered employees) are only required to pay out up to 16 hours of unused paid leave through December 31, 2024. Beginning January 1, 2025, medium employers will need to pay out all unused paid leave time upon separation or transfer.
  • Large employers (over 100 covered employees) must pay out all unused paid leave upon separation or transfer.

Those with unlimited paid time off policies are not required to track carryover of unused time, however, employers must still pay out the monetary equivalent of 40 hours of paid time off minus the hours used by the employee in the 12 months prior to separation or transfer outside of the city.

In terms of usage, employees may only use paid sick leave and paid leave once they have been employed for at least 30 days and 90 days, respectively. It is important to note that these leaves can be used prior to any other leave available as provided by the employer, city, state, or by federal law. Employers may set minimum increments of leave, however, the minimum increment for paid sick leave may not exceed two hours and the minimum increment for paid leave may not exceed four hours.

As mentioned previously, paid leave may be used for any reason, and paid sick leave may be used for the same reasons under the current Chicago paid sick leave ordinance. These reasons include:

    • Employee’s own illness or injury, or to receive medical professional care (e.g., preventative care, diagnosis, treatment, substance use, behavioral issues).
    • Employee’s family member’s illness or injury, or ordered to quarantine, or to care for a family member receiving professional care (e.g., preventative care, diagnosis, treatment, substance use, behavioral issues).
    • Employee or their family member is the victim of domestic violence, a sex offense, or trafficking.
    • Employee’s place of business is closed due to a public health emergency, or the employee must care for a family member due to the closure of school, class, or place of care.
    • Employee obeys an order issued by the mayor, governor of Illinois, Chicago Department of Health, or treating healthcare provider to:
      • Stay at home to prevent transmission of communicable disease.
      • Stay at home while sick or experiencing symptoms of a communicable disease.
      • Quarantine under an isolation order.
    • Employers may require up to seven days’ advance notice for any foreseeable leaves taken under paid sick leave or paid leave. If advanced notice is not possible, employers may require notice to be given as soon as practicable. Additionally, documentation is not required for paid leave, however, the following documents may be used to certify paid sick leave if absences exceed three consecutive work days, and commencement of leave may not be delayed due to missing certification:

      • Documentation certified by a licensed healthcare provider
      • Police report
      • Court document
      • Signed statement from an attorney, member of the clergy, or victim services advocate.
      • Any other evidence supporting the employee’s claim including a written statement from the employee or any person who has knowledge of the circumstances.

      Employers with existing paid leave policies that either meet or exceed the requirements of paid leave or paid sick leave are not required to provide additional paid leave or paid sick leave. If not compliant with the new ordinance rules, any current paid sick leave the employee is entitled to roll over to the next accrual period and must be transferred to paid sick leave under the new ordinance.

      Employers must provide and post a notice (provided by the Department) in a conspicuous place at each facility within the city boundaries. Employee’s rights under the ordinance must be provided with the employee’s first paycheck and annually thereafter with a paycheck issued within 30 days of July 1. Written notification including the amount of paid sick leave and paid leave available along with accrual rates and paid leave usage must be provided each time wages are paid out. These details must also be provided to employees at the commencement of employment and any changes must be notified to the employee at least five days prior to the changes taking place, and at least 14 days prior if the change affects the employee’s total compensation. Lastly, employers must retain records of compliance with the ordinance (including employee names, addresses, hours worked, pay rates, wage agreements, paid sick leave and paid leave hours earned and used) for five years or the duration of a claim, civil action, or investigation whichever is longer.

      State Updates

      California

      Employment Development Department (EDD)

      There is no update yet from the EDD as far as the 2024 maximum weekly benefit for the State Disability Insurance program. At this point, the Department of Industrial Relations has not released the state average weekly wage which is what the EDD uses to calculate the upcoming year’s maximum benefit amount. As a reminder, back in June, the EDD forecasted a weekly maximum benefit of $1,698 for 2024. We’ll let you know as soon as the 2024 rate is finalized.

      Massachusetts

      Paid Family and Medical Leave

      For applications filed on or after November 1, 2023, employees receiving PFML benefits may now “top off” or supplement their benefits with any available accrued paid leave, unless during the 7-day waiting period, with accrued leave such as sick time, vacation, PTO, personal time, and the like. This recent change now requires employers to provide the option to employees to top-up their benefits, if they wish to do so, and employers will be held responsible by the Department to ensure that the combined amount an employee receives from their top up and PFML benefits does not exceed the employee’s average weekly wage. Employees who submit a PFML application on or after November 1st will be eligible, while any ongoing claims that were filed before November 1st will not be eligible to the new rules. The state has also released some Frequently Asked Questions on their website about this update that may be helpful.

      Also, on the topic of MA PFML, we are still waiting on updated workplace posters for the program with the 2024 contribution rates and weekly benefit amount. While historically, the posters are usually updated in November, it seems that this time it may be sometime in December. The Department has stated “at a future date,” so we can only assume it’ll be any day now. We hope to provide you with the updated posters within our next newsletter.

      Canada Updates

      Federal Employers – Canada Labour Code (CLC)

      The Parliament of Canada has introduced for its first reading, Bill C-58, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code and the Canada Industrial Relations Board RegulationsAmong other things, the bill proposes amendments to the Canada Labour Code, which is the overarching Act that defines the rights and duties of both workers and employers in a federally regulated workplace. Specifically, the Bill proposes to prohibit employers from using the services of an employee(s) in a bargaining unit during a legal strike or lockout, as well as amendments to the maintenance of activities process to encourage employers and trade unions to reach an earlier agreement in the event of a legal strike or lockout, or faster decision making when parties are unable to agree. You will be able to read full details on the proposed legislation in the link above, and Larkin will be sure to inform you of when this bill comes into force.

      Prince Edward Island

      The Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island recently introduced Bill 106, An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act for its first reading. Currently, employees are entitled to 1 day of paid sick leave under the ESA if they have at least 5 years of employment. This bill, if passed, would increase the amount of paid sick leave days that an employee is entitled to per calendar year up to 5 days, with accrual beginning much sooner than 5 years of employment: 3 days would be earned once an employee reaches 90 days of continuous employment, and the remaining 2 days would be earned after 180 days of continuous employment. An employee would be entitled to take these paid days before any unpaid days that they are additionally entitled to, however, unpaid days would not carry over to the following year. We will be sure to keep you updated on if Bill 106 receives Royal Assent and is passed, as well as the final details, once that occurs.

      Ontario

      The Ontario Parliament has introduced Bill 149, Working for Workers Four Act that proposes amendments to the Employment Standards Act, among other changes, which would bolster wage protections for hospitality and restaurant workers, ban “Canadian work experience” as a requirement for job postings and application forms, and require employers to comply with new pay transparency provisions by disclosing salary ranges and if artificial intelligence is used to screen or select applicants for a job position. The bill proposes a multitude of changes that may or may not change as it is currently in its second reading. Once the bill has reached royal assent, we will be sure to update you on the bill’s passing, as well as the specifics of which may be of most interest to you.

      Additionally, within Ontario’s announcement of the bill, it was mentioned that the province’s government will be launching consultations to create a new job-protected leave for critical illnesses to match the 26 weeks of sickness benefits provided through federal Employment Insurance (EI). This would be a great step forward for employees with critical illnesses like cancer to be able to take time off work for their own medical condition under provincial law and not be subject to their employer’s company policy, as currently, Ontario’s sick leave is only 3 days per calendar year. We will be sure to keep you informed should these consultations become an actuality.

      Quebec

      You may recall from our previous newsletter in July that we confirmed the premium rates for the Québec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) will remain the same for next year, at 0.494% for employees and 0.692% for employers in 2024. This month, the 2024 maximum insurable earnings rate for the plan was also confirmed to be $94,000, an increase from 2023’s $91,000. This means that the maximum employee and employer contributions for 2024 will be $464.36 and $650.48, respectively. Additionally, due to the maximum insurable earnings increase, this means that the maximum weekly amounts payable for QPIP benefits have increased. For the Basic Plan, it is $1,265, and for the Special Plan, it is $1,356. During weeks 8-32 of the Basic Plan for shareable parental benefits, the maximum weekly benefit is $994 (see the second column and third row of the Pregnancy and Birth table). You will be able to find more information on the premiums and maximum insurable earnings for the QPIP program on the Quebec government’s website, here.

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