Governor Pritzker is expected to sign the Paid Leave for All Workers Act into law soon which would provide paid time to Illinois employees beginning January 1, 2024. Most Illinois employers and workers will be covered, including state and local governments. It will not, however, apply to certain school and park districts or workers in the construction or parcel delivery covered by collective bargaining agreements.
Most of the provisions looks similar to the various paid sick and safe leave laws that exist already around the country. Employees will be eligible to accrue immediately upon hire at 1 hour of paid time for every 40 work hours, up to 40 hours annually. Frontloading can be used instead of using an accrual method. Employees can begin using paid time after 90 days of service, and use is capped at 40 hours annually. Requests can be oral or in writing, which may include text messages or other electronic communication, but must be given no less than 7 days in advance. When the need for leave is unforeseeable, the employee must notify the employer as soon as is practicable. Accrued leave will carryover annually. The time will be paid at the regular rate of pay, or at least minimum wage in tip-credit situations. While there is no payout provision under the Act, separated employees who returned within 12 months will have their previously available balance restored. Penalties include actual damages, compensatory damages, fines between $500 and $1,000, and civil penalties up to $2,500 per offense.
There are some notable differences, though. Unlike most other similar laws which provide time for sick and safety reasons, employees under this Act may take leave for any reason, or no reason at all. Nevada passed a similar “any reason” paid time law in 2019. Also, the Act provides that employers already covered by another local leave law that mandates paid time before January 1, 2024, such as the Chicago and Cook County paid sick leave laws, will not have to follow the provisions of this new law. It is important to note, however, that if these laws are amended in the future, they will need to comply with all aspects of the Act. Because so many municipalities in Cook County opted out of the county sick leave ordinance when it became effective, it will be interesting to see if any rethink that decision and decide to opt-in before January 1 to avoid the extra provisions under the new law.
Employers should begin talking now about how to implement this new law. Systems and protocols will need to be updated and put in place and decision makers will need to decide how, if at all, this will affect current paid vacation or personal time benefits already offered by the employer. Companies using HRIS or payroll systems will need to ensure the technology is updated in time for the rollout. Lastly, and probably most important, employers will need to communicate this change to its workers in a purposeful and deliberate manner.