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Chicago Paid Leave Law Amended to Exclude Trade Show Attendees

Kathy Monte - News Editor
Chicago Paid Leave Law Amended to Exclude Trade Show Attendees

CHICAGO — A trailer ordinance has been added to the new paid leave law spearheaded by Mayor Brandon Johnson and was approved by the Chicago City Council on Wednesday, Dec. 13, with trade shows and conventions in mind.

This amendment makes a major change to the definition of covered employee, and it no longer covers most business travelers coming to Chicago for conventions and meetings.

“While the amendments to Chicago’s Paid Leave Ordinance are certainly not perfect, we appreciate members of City Council working to correct one of the measure’s most concerning flaws by changing the definition of covered employee to make it less ambiguous. As Chicago’s hospitality industry continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, we must do everything we can to attract meetings and events to our city. This change is a step in the right direction, making it clear that business travelers and trade show attendees simply visiting Chicago are not the intended target of the legislation. This amendment sends the proper message that Chicago remains open for business for business travelers, conferences and conventions,” Michael Jacobson, President and CEO of the Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association (IHLA), said.

What the original paid leave law constituted was if someone attended a trade show or conference in Chicago and was in town for more than two hours, they would have begun to accrue one hour of sick time and one hour of time off for each 35 hours they work. Even if the employee did not work a full 35 hours during one trip, the employer would have had to begin recordkeeping to track when the employee would begin to accrue paid time off during subsequent trips. They would also have had to comply with providing a notice to an employee about their rights under the ordinance after spending only two hours in Chicago.

“Over the last few weeks, we have been engaging with convention clients to understand the impact of the paid leave ordinance and share feedback with our colleagues at the City of Chicago. We welcome the changes that passed City Council today and we will continue to work closely with the City and MPEA (The Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority) to share up-to-date information with our clients,” said Choose Chicago in a statement.

In addition, the new ordinance introduces a cure period for the Private Right of Action for violations, giving employers 16 days from the date of a violation to fix the issue before potentially facing lawsuits.

The amendment also pushes the effective date of the Paid Time Off law by six months to July 1, 2024.

Check out this article from the Chicago Tribune featuring Trade Show Executive’s original reporting.

Reach Michael Jacobson at

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