Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave FAQ

This FAQ is meant only to answer basic questions and is not meant as employment advice.  Please consult with the County or a legal professional before making any employment policy decisions.


What’s the fuss about? The Wilmette Village Board voted on June 27, 2017 to avoid Cook County’s new laws raising the minimum wage and giving workers paid sick leave. The Village Board says it will reconsider the issue at some point in the future.


What is the current minimum wage? The current minimum wage in Illinois is $8.25 an hour, which equals $17,000 a year if you work full time. It hasn’t gone up since 2009, and has dropped 15% since then in inflation-adjusted dollars.


Is that enough to support a family? No. A living wage for 1 adult working full-time and supporting 1 child in Cook County is $24.89 an hour, according to a 2017 Massachusetts Institute of Technology study. For 1 adult, it’s $12.56.[1]


How much does the Cook County ordinance raise the minimum wage? It went up to $10 in 2017, and then by $1 a year until it reaches $13 an hour in 2020. After that, it’s indexed to inflation.[2] 


How many paid sick days are workers currently required to get in Wilmette? Zero


How many sick days would workers get under the Cook County ordinance? Up to 5 earned days a year, prorated for part-time workers.[3]


Which of our neighbors have already adopted the Cook County minimum wage and paid sick leave ordinances? Winnetka, Kenilworth, Glencoe, Evanston, Skokie and Northfield. Of the towns bordering Wilmette, only Glenview has opted out. Chicago already has similar ordinances.


Why are sick days important? Without paid sick days, employees feel compelled to work even if they have a contagious illness. Parents can’t stay home with a sick child, making the child more likely to go to school with an illness. Families avoid checkups and screenings, leading to higher hospital costs.[4]

Aren’t most minimum-wage workers teens getting started in the job market? No. The average age of minimum-wage workers is 35 and 88% aren’t teens.[5] 


What about Park District counselors? The laws don’t apply to park districts and other government bodies.[6]


What about my babysitter? Babysitters under 18 are exempt from the County minimum wage. They are also exempt from paid sick leave if they work for you as an independent contractor rather than a regular employee.

Nannies working regularly are exempt from the County minimum wage for the first 90 days of employment. If they are working occasionally for at least 80 hours in any 120-day period, they are eligible to earn and use sick leave. You can require a waiting period of up to 180 days from the start of employment to use accrued sick leave.


What about apprenticeships? The law has an exemption for training programs.


My business already has a paid time-off policy that includes sick time. Would I need to add paid sick leave on top of that? No. If your PTO already includes more days than the sick leave law requires and imposes no greater burdens, you wouldn’t need to add more days.

Do most Wilmette businesses oppose the minimum wage increase and paid sick days? When the local Chamber of Commerce surveyed its 180 members, only 23 (13%) said they favored opting out of the Cook County laws, while 12 said they supported the Cook County laws and the rest didn’t bother responding.[7]


Don’t most businesses in Wilmette already pay above minimum wage? That’s what the Chamber of Commerce survey indicated, which is great. The new law would boost pay at the few businesses that aren’t up to that level.


Wouldn’t keeping track of sick days be a big burden for businesses? Not really. Thousands of business already do so by the use of inexpensive software such as QuickBooks.


I love our Wilmette businesses. Would these new laws force them to close, leave town or lay off workers? That hasn’t been the case in Chicago, where unemployment has dropped since similar laws passed in 2014.[8] The same has been true in other cities that raised the minimum wage.[9] 


Are there economic benefits to a higher minimum wage and paid sick leave? Definitely. Where wages have gone up and sick leave is provided, employee turnover is reduced, better workers are attracted, productivity goes up, and injuries on the job go down. Plus, workers have more money to spend, boosting overall sales.[10]


Isn’t there a University of Washington study that says Seattle’s higher minimum wage hurts workers? Not exactly. A working paper found there was a loss of jobs below $19 an hour but an equal gain in jobs over $19 since Seattle upped its minimum wage. Meanwhile Seattle’s unemployment rate is at 2.5%. The University of Washington paper skipped nearly 40% of workers, and other studies have found economic benefits from minimum wage hikes in Seattle and other cities.[11]


Wouldn’t it be better to address the minimum wage and paid sick leave on a state or national level? Absolutely. The Illinois General Assembly passed a minimum wage bill, but Gov. Rauner vetoed it. The gridlock in DC makes it unlikely for a minimum wage bill to pass any time soon. Until the state or federal governments act, it’s up to local communities to push the ball forward.


Didn’t we already vote on this? Yes. In 2014, 70 percent of Wilmette voters supported a statewide non-binding referendum to raise the minimum wage to $10 by 2015. In 2016, 74% voted in favor of a Cook County referendum to allow workers to earn up to 40 hours of paid sick time per year.[12]


How can I find out more information or get involved? Send a note to

[2] “Minimum Wage Ordinance and Regulations, Cook County Government, 2017, 

[3] Earned Sick Leave Ordinance and Regulations, Cook County Government, 2017, 

[4] Florida Atlantic University, U.S. Workers Without Paid Sick Leave Forgo Preventive Care, March 1, 2017,; “The Impact of Paid Sick Days on Jobs: What’s the Real Story,” Community Service Society, September 2012

[5] Economic Policy Institue, “Low-Wage Workers Are Older Than You Think,” 2017, 

[6] “Minimum Wage Ordinance and Regulations, Cook County Government, 2017,; Earned Sick Leave Ordinance and Regulations, Cook County Government, 2017,  

[9] National Employment Law Project, “City Minimum Wage Laws: Recent Trends and Economic Evidence”, April 2016; Sylvia A. Allegretto and Michael Reich, “Are minimum wage increases absorbed by small price increases?”  Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, University of California, Berkeley, November 29, 2016,; Michael Reich, Arindrajit Dube, and T. William Lester, “Minimum Wage Effects Across State Borders,”Review of Economics and Statistics (2010): 945-964, available at:

[10] National Employment Law Project, “Raise Wages, Kill Jobs?” May 2016 

[11] Rebecca Smith, “UW Minimum Wage Study Doesn’t Reflect Reality of Work in Seattle,” Seattle Times, July 5, 2017, 

[12] Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin, Wilmette Village Board meeting minutes, June 27, 2017