Cook County Issues Notice on Toothless Minimum Wage Ordinance

Tip jar
A tip jar at a business. (Photo: Dave Dugdale/Flickr/cc)

Chicago, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Cook County issued a notice to employees regarding the Minimum Wage Ordinance (MWO). Effective July 1, 2021, the minimum wage for non-tipped workers will remain $13.00. The minimum wage is $6.60 for tipped employees. Tipped employees saw the increase in Illinois January 1, 2021. However, 80% of the municipalities in Cook County, including Park Forest, chose to opt out of Cook County’s MWO soon after it was passed in 2016. So the minimum wage in Park Forest is set by the state of Illinois at $11.00. Teenagers who work part-time, defined by the law as those under 18 years of age who have not worked more than 650 hours for the employer during any calendar year, earn $8.50 an hour as of January 1.

Park Forest workers and business owners alike showed up for board meetings in 2016 where the decision whether to opt out of the MWO was discussed and subsequently voted on. Workers made public comment asking the board to comply with the Cook County Ordinance, Park Forest business owners asked the board to opt out of the Ordinance. The board eventually decided to opt out of the ordinance.

The MWO sets the lowest amount an employer must legally pay their employees. Each year the minimum wage increases according to a formula set by the Ordinance. The Ordinance applies to hourly, salaried, and tipped employees, over the age of 18, working in Cook County, even those who may be working within the County to make deliveries or driving within the County limits.

Cook County’s minimum wage is based on the greatest rate among the Federal minimum wage, Illinois State minimum wage, or on the County’s calculation using the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Pursuant to the MWO (Sec. 42-13) and rules (Sec. 2.04), Cook County’s minimum wage calculation may not be used when the unemployment rate in Cook County is 8.5% or greater. The unemployment rate in Cook County for the previous year was equal to or greater than 8.5%.

Employees are covered by the Cook County MWO if:

  • The employee has worked for an employer in Cook County for at least 2 hours in any two-week period, and
  • The employer has four or more employees (or the employee is a domestic worker) and
  • The employer maintains a business facility in Cook County or is issued a business license by Cook County.
  • Teenagers (under the age of 18) must be paid the State’s minimum wage of $7.75.

Employees who believe their employer is not paying the required minimum wage should first check to ensure the municipality where they work does not have a different minimum wage. If the municipality has not opted out, employees can file a complaint with the Cook County Human Rights Commission. Complaint forms and additional information can be found online.

Ordinance No. 16-5768 (MWO) was passed by the Cook County Board of Commissioners on October 26, 2016.

The following Cook County municipalities opted out of the minimum wage ordinance:

Alsip, Arlington Heights, Barrington, Bartlett, Bellwood, Bensenville, Berkeley, Blue Island, Bridgeview, Broadview, Brookfield, Buffalo Grove, Burbank, Burnham, Burr Ridge, Calumet City, Calumet Park, Chicago Heights, Chicago Ridge, Cicero, Country Club Hills, Crestwood, Des Plaines, Dixmoor, East Dundee, East Hazel Crest, Elgin, Elk Grove Village, Elmwood Park, Evergreen Park, Flossmoor, Ford Heights, Forest Park, Forest View, Franklin Park, Harvey, Hazel Crest, Glenview, Glenwood, Golf, Hanover Park, Harwood Heights, Hickory Hills, Hillside, Hinsdale, Hodgkins, Hoffman Estates, Homewood, Hometown, Indian Head Park, Inverness, Justice, La Grange, La Grange Park, Lansing, Lemont, Lincolnwood, Lynwood, Lyons, Markham, Matteson, Maywood, Melrose Park, Merrionette Park, Midlothian, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Norridge, North Riverside, Northbrook, Northlake, Oak Forest, Oak Lawn, Orland Hills, Orland Park, Palatine, Palos Heights, Palos Park, Park Forest, Park Ridge, Posen, Prospect Heights, Richton Park, River Forest, River Grove, Riverdale, Riverside, Rolling Meadows, Roselle, Rosemont, Sauk Village, Schaumburg, Schiller Park, South Barrington, South Chicago Heights, South Holland, Steger, Stickney, Stone Park, Streamwood, Summit, Thornton, Tinley Park, Westchester, Western Springs, Wheeling, Willow Springs, Wilmette, Worth.

Only Barrington Hills, Bedford Park, Berwyn, Countryside, Deerfield, Evanston, Glencoe, Kenilworth, McCook, Northfield, Oak Park, Palos Hills, Skokie, and Winnetka comply with the Cook County MWO. (Source: illinoispolicy.org)