Economic Assistance is available for working families and businesses through Cook County Government and the State of Illinois. Visit these websites for information about loans for small businesses, unemployment insurance, cell phone and utility relief, food access, Medicaid waivers, taxes, and more. Click on the photo tiles at page bottom for IDPH Resources for Economic Assistance and U.S Department of Labor. Additional resources can be found on our Resources page.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are answers to questions we’ve received from employed and unemployed workers. For more information, visit our Resources page, call the CCDPH COVID-19 Hotline at 708-633-3329, or email [email protected].
Is my employer really an essential business?
Employees with questions if their place of employment should remain open can visit the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity COVID-19 website, call the hotline at 1-800-252-2923, or email [email protected].
My employer is not practicing social distancing, who can I report this to?
The Illinois Office of the Attorney General has a hotline for workplace violations. Call the hotline at 844-740-5076 or email [email protected].
For workers with concerns about long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, please call the Illinois Dept. of Public Health through their hotline: 1-800-252-4343. More information is also available at this website.
What resources are available for workers whose hours have been cut, workplace has closed or who have been terminated?
If you have been temporarily laid off due to COVID-19, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits as long as you are able, available, and actively seeking work. Under recently adopted emergency rules. You do not have to register with the employment service, and are instead considered to be actively seeking work as long as you are prepared to return to your job as soon as your employer re-opens.
- To ask about state unemployment insurance visit the Illinois Department of Employment Security website for more information or call 1-800-244-5631.
- The Chicago-Cook Workforce Partnership has a website with resources for job seekers, utility bill relief, food, unemployment insurance, and Medicaid waivers.
- School districts throughout Cook County suburbs are providing meals to families in need. Go here for details: www.bit.ly/CookCountyMeals
What resources are available to support immigrant workers?
- Arise Chicago has information for how to protect yourself if you are currently working, for domestic workers, including sample letters and petitions, what to do if you lose work hours or lose your job, local resources to help you, immigrant rights. Find out what is Arise doing during this crisis and what you can do to help.
- Centro de Trabajadores Unidos (CTU) – As immigrants and allies, CTU has been mobilizing and advocating for comprehensive immigration reform that keeps families together. CTU provides training and education on immigration rights, including the Dream Act and Deferred Action; citizenship classes; community citizenship workshops; and educates legislators on the issues and needs of the immigrant community to support passage of just legislation. Workers are granted certain basic legal rights to safe, healthy and fair conditions at work. Visit the CTU website for information about worker rights, occupational health and safety laws, minimum wage, overtime laws and discrimination.
I lost my job because of COVID-19, where do I apply for assistance?
If you’re without access to paid sick leave or unable to work because of COVID-19, call Illinois Department of Employment Security at 1-800-244-5631 to apply for unemployment insurance.
My employer is requiring that I provide proof of testing before I return to work.
We understand this is a difficult situation. CDC recommends that employers not require testing to return to work after a respiratory illness, and that those who are ill to stay home for at least 7 days after you first became ill, or 72 hours after your fever has resolved and symptoms are improving, whichever is longer. Contact your medical provider and ask them to provide a letter stating that you have been evaluated and are not at risk for COVID-19, or have passed the recommended time period for staying home, are healthy, and can return to work.
For more about testing locations, please see our Testing page.
What if I get COVID-19 at work? I am still working.
If you have been exposed to a person with COVID-19, you can continue to go to work but should monitor your health for 14 days and stay away from others if you get sick. Please see the question below about sick leave expansion during COVID-19.
If you become ill with fever, cough, or shortness of breath, stay home for at least 7 days after you first became ill, or 72 hours after your fever has resolved and symptoms are improving, whichever is longer. Most people will have mild symptoms and be able to recover at home.
Consult with your doctor if you have: fever, cough, trouble breathing, chills, or other flu like symptoms that are not better or are worsening after 24‐48 hours, or if you have mild symptoms and are pregnant, have a weakened immune system, have chronic health conditions, or are an older adult (60+).
- If you don’t have insurance, you can seek care at a community health center or Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). FQHCs provide healthcare based on a sliding fee. You can find the nearest health center by going to: https://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov/ Please call ahead. Please note: ICE has suspended removal operations at health care settings.
- If you need immediate medical attention, and you think you may have COVID‐19, call your healthcare provider’s office or clinic before going in for care. If you think you are having a medical emergency, call 911. If you have been exposed to COVID‐19, notify dispatch personnel so emergency medical services personnel are prepared.
Am I eligible for sick leave or FMLA?
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act requires most companies and nonprofits under 500 employees to provide extended family and medical leave benefits and up to two weeks of paid sick leave to their employees for COVID-19 related reasons. Generally,
- Two weeks of paid sick leave is available to all employees until December 31, 2020. For employees that are unable to work because they are quarantined or experiencing COVID symptoms and seeking medical diagnosis, they should receive their regular rate of pay. For employees who are unable to work because they are caring for an individual subject to quarantine or a child whose school or childcare closed, they should receive 2/3 of regular pay.
- Extends Family and Medical Leave benefits, adding up to 10 weeks of paid leave, to employees of companies with fewer than 500 workers if caring for a child whose school or day care has closed. The pay is at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay. This FMLA extension is available until December 31, 2020.