Elk Grove proposes minimum wage increase, sick leave rules

Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson has proposed a plan to raise the minimum wage during the next five years, a departure from other suburban leaders who've rejected a Cook County ordinance mandating a sharper increase by July.

Johnson introduced the proposal Tuesday to set the minimum wage for businesses in the village at $9.50 per hour by Jan. 1. Under the plan, the minimum wage would increase each year with cost-of-living adjustments or by 2.5 percent annually, whichever is less.

Johnson criticized state lawmakers during the village meeting, arguing the legislature should set minimum wage laws.

"We wish the state did the job they're supposed to do," he said.

"To have towns or counties pitting different things against other towns or counties really does not make much sense, but it's the cards we've been dealt and it's the cards we're going to have to play with."

Cook County's ordinance gradually increases the minimum wage to $13 an hour during the next three years. The first increase to $10 an hour is effective July 1. Illinois' minimum wage is $8.25 an hour.

Another new county ordinance requires businesses provide one hour of sick leave per 40 hours of work, which equals five days a year. Johnson proposed five days of sick leave a year instead of requiring employers to track each employee's hours.

Some suburban municipalities have already rejected the county ordinances. Barrington, Mount Prospect, and Rosemont have all opted out of the new rules. Schaumburg appears ready to follow suit after trustees voted unanimously this week to write legislation to opt out.

But Johnson predicted other communities may watch Elk Grove Village, where thousands are employed in North America's largest industrial park in Cook and DuPage counties.

"We were surprised that the business community generally support an increase in the minimum wage as well as providing sick leave," Johnson said. "However, the business community did not support it at the same level as adopted by Cook County."

The proposal has fewer regulations than the county's ordinances. For example, employers wouldn't be required to submit documentation. Instead, the village would enforce the ordinances based on complaints and provide back pay and fines for violations.

Johnson urged residents, employers and employees to attend and speak during a meeting March 28, when the board could adopt the proposal. He said he wants to implement a plan by April to allow businesses time to adjust to new rules before July 1.

Proposed minimum wage increase:

• July 1: $8.75 an hour

• Jan. 1, 2018: $9.50 an hour

• The lesser of a 2.5 percent increase or the cost-of-living adjustment each year starting Jan. 1, 2019.

• Minimum wage for employees age 18 and under would be 50 cents per hour less

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