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Chicago's fair workweek law takes effect Wednesday as businesses grapple with pandemic uncertainty

Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Business News

"At the end of the day, if you schedule your people fairly and you're a good employer, the scheduling law just shouldn't add any cost to your plate," Reiter said.

The city moved forward as planned with July 1 implementation of the ordinance, which was approved a year ago with strong backing by Mayor Lori Lightfoot after many months of negotiations.

The scheduling law comes as Chicago's minimum wage, now $13 an hour, goes up on Wednesday, to $14 for companies with more than 20 employees and $13.50 for smaller employers. The city also recently adopted an ordinance prohibiting employers from retaliating against workers for staying home while sick or exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.

How a pandemic affects the law

The law exempts schedule changes that are a result of a pandemic. In its rule-making, the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection said it will consider a change "to be 'because' of the pandemic only when the pandemic causes the Employer to materially change its operating hours, operating plan, or the goods or services provided by the Employer, which results in the Work Schedule\u202fchange."

 

In a nod to business concerns, the city said workers can't sue their bosses for violating the Fair Workweek ordinance until Jan. 1, pushing that provision of the ordinance off for six months.

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