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Chicago May Be The Next City To Demand Paid Sick Days For ALL Workers

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Chicago employers would be required to offer paid sick leave to all workers under a proposal introduced by City Councilmen Wednesday.

The proposal, co-sponsored by Ald. Proco "Joe" Moreno (1st) and Ald. Toni Foulkes (15th), would mean that workers would earn an hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours they work, up to a maximum total of either five days for smaller employers or nine days for larger ones.

Many other cities have already passed legislation similar to the Chicago ordinance. New York City approved a paid sick leave requirement last month, joining cities like Portland, Ore., San Francisco and Washington, D.C. and others that have already done so.

According to a news release from the Earned Sick Time Chicago Coalition, which is pushing for the ordinance, the legislation would allow workers the time off for either their own illness or to care for a sick family member. The legislation would also apply to taking time off for domestic or sexual violence.

The proposal also allows employers to ask for a doctor's note for three consecutive sick days and does not require employers to pay back workers for unused sick days when they are fired, quit or otherwise move on from the job.

Forty-two percent of workers in the private sector in Chicago do not have paid sick days, the release reports. Among low-income workers, that number swells to 80 percent.

The Chicago Tribune reports the proposal is backed by a majority of the City Council -- 26 of the council's 50 aldermen. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has not yet stated a position on the proposal.

Moreno described the proposal as "a pro-business ordinance" because it should encourage higher productivity and morale and reduce employee turnover, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

For their part, business groups argue the proposal would hurt small businesses, CBS Chicago reports.

In a poll released last month, one in four American workers admitted they show up to work while ill, many of them because they say their boss required them to. Others reported they came to work sick because they needed the money or claimed their workload would pile up too much if they didn't clock in.

The Chicago proposal also comes amid a new push for a statewide paid sick day requirement in Illinois, backed by Gov. Pat Quinn, whose office is reportedly drafting a bill. Connecticut is currently the only state with an earned paid sick leave law on the books.

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