Cook County Minimum Wage: Draft Regulations Released

By Kathryn O'Connor, PHR, SHRM-CP, CCP, GRP, Director, Compensation Services
Published April 18, 2017

Last October, Cook County passed an ordinance that would raise the minimum wage for many workers within the county. This Ordinance is effective July 1, 2017. Now, the Cook County Commission on Human Rights has issued draft rules that will govern their interpretation and enforcement of the Cook County Minimum Wage Ordinance. 

In a previous article, we discussed which employees would be covered and shared the new minimum wage rates. To summarize, the Cook County minimum wage applies to the payment of wages by a Covered Employer to a Covered Employee, for work that is performed while the Covered Employee is physically present and working for two or more hours, within the geographic boundaries of Cook County. 

The proposed regulations provide more detail regarding the requirements and planned enforcement of the law.  These include but are not limited to:

  • Beginning on July 1, 2017, the new Cook County minimum wage for non-tipped employees is $10.00 per hour; beginning on July 1, 2018, $11.00 per hour; beginning on July 1, 2019, $12.00 per hour; and beginning on July 1, 2020, $13.00 per hour. Beginning on July 1, 2021, and on every July 1st thereafter, the new minimum wage rate for non-tipped employees will be calculated by looking at the change in the consumer price index (CPI) over the prior 12 months.  This CPI increase will be multiplied against the current minimum rate and rounded up to the nearest multiple of $0.05.
  • For example, if the Cook County Minimum Wage between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021, is $13 per hour, and the CPI increases by 1.8 percent between April 2020 and April 2021, then the Commission would advise and post by June 1, 2021, that the Cook County Minimum Wage will increase by $0.25 (i.e., $13.00 x 0.018 = 0.234, then round up to the nearest nickel) effective July 1, 2021.
  • The draft rules state that any annual increase to the Cook County Minimum Wage shall be capped at 2.5%. If the CPI decreases in the annual time period, the Cook County Minimum Wage will remain the same. Additionally, there shall be no increase in the Cook County Minimum Wage pursuant to an increase in the CPI in any year when the unemployment rate in Cook County is equal to or greater than 8.5%.  
  • At this time, there is no change to the tipped minimum wage rate. However, beginning July 1, 2018, and on every July 1st, thereafter, the ordinance rate for tipped employees will be calculated by the Cook County Commission on Human Rights in the manner described above and will be published by June 1st of each year.
  • Employers found in violation of these rules may face fines ranging from $500 - $1,000 per violation per Covered Employee affected, per day. Employers that violate the ordinance may also have to pay the amount of back wages due to Covered Employees, in addition to facing disqualification from various Cook County benefits, including being ineligible for contracts with Cook County, suspension or revocation of an employer’s Cook County general business license and the loss of property tax incentives. In the most extreme cases, injunctive relief may be warranted.

View the entire draft interpretative and procedural rules here

Public comments on these draft regulations are encouraged and must be submitted before May 8, 2017. Submissions should be sent to the Cook County Commission on Human Rights at 69 W. Washington, Suite 3040, Chicago, IL 60602 or electronically to human.rights@cookcountyil.gov.

After considering all public comments and engaging in further deliberation, the Cook County Commission on Human Rights will adopt and publish final interpretative and procedural rules for the Cook County Minimum Wage Ordinance by June 1, 2017. At that time, the Commission will also publish model postings and required notices, form pleadings and other support materials. As more information becomes available, Management Association will provide additional articles and webinars on this important topic.

Have questions? Contact us at info@hrsource.org or at 800-448-4584.

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