On Monday, March 13, 2023, Governor JB Pritzker of Illinois signed into law SB208, the Paid Leave for Workers Act (“the Act”). Illinois is now the third state to require paid time off for any reason (not just medical reasons). Employees are not required to provide documentation or certification as proof or in support of a request for paid leave.
When Does Illinois Paid Leave Take Effect?
Illinois Paid Leave takes effect January 1, 2024 at which time employees also begin accruing leave. Employees can start using accrued paid leave on March 31, 2024, or ninety (90) days following commencement of employment (whichever is later).
Employers should take advantage of this extra time to review time off policies and practices to ensure compliance with the Act by 2024.
Who is Covered by Illinois Paid Leave?
Employees (including domestic workers) working for an employer in Illinois are covered by the Act.
There are some individuals and employers excluded from coverage including independent contractors, employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement in certain industries including construction and parcel delivery, and school and park districts.
In addition, the Act does not apply to employers that are covered by a municipal or county ordinance that requires employers to provide any form of paid leave to their employees – as long as that ordinance is in effect on January 1, 2024. However, any local ordinance providing for paid leave which is enacted or amended after January 1, 2024 must comply with the requirements of the Act.
Accrual and Use of Illinois Paid Leave
Under the Act, employees accrue paid leave at the rate of one (1) hour per every forty (40) hours worked. Employees receive their full wage during any period of paid leave, with tipped employees receiving the full minimum wage in their respective location.
Employers cannot require employees to find coverage for their absence, and may set a minimum increment for use of paid leave, not to exceed two (2) hours per day.
Illinois Paid Leave Notice Requirements
Illinois Paid Leave is provided following an employee’s oral or written request in accordance with the employer’s reasonable paid leave policy notification requirements including: 7 days’ advance notice if the employee’s use of paid leave is foreseeable, or notice as soon as is practicable after the employee is aware of the necessity for leave, if such leave was not foreseeable. Where notice is required for an unforeseeable use of paid leave, the employer must provide a written policy detailing the procedures for the employee to follow in order to provide notice.
Employer Responsibilities Under Illinois Paid Leave
Employers are required to post in a conspicuous place on the premises where notices to employees are customarily posted, as well as include in a written employee manual or policy, a notice to be prepared by the Illinois Department of Labor summarizing the requirements of the Act. Employers who violate this requirement are subject to a civil penalty of $500.00 for the first audit violation, and $1,000.00 for any subsequent audit violation.
Employers also have record keeping requirements under the Act, requiring them to maintain records of hours worked, paid leave which has accrued and which has been taken, and any remaining paid leave balance. These records must be retained for at least three (3) years, and must be made available to the Department at reasonable times during business hours to monitor employer compliance with the Act.
Employers with existing paid leave policies with the minimum paid leave required under the Act, and which permit employers to take paid leave for any reason, are not required to change their existing paid leave policies. Nothing in the Act prohibits employers from adopting a paid leave policy which is more generous than that provided under the Act.
Employers are prohibited from interfering, denying or changing their employees’ work hours to avoid providing eligible paid leave, as well as retaliating against any employee who exercises or attempts to exercise his/her rights under the Act, opposes practices in violation of the Act, or for supporting another individual’s exercise of his/her rights under the Act.
Employers are not required to pay an employee for any accrued, but unused paid leave at the time of termination, resignation, retirement or other separation from employment. However, if the employer decides to credit the accrued paid leave provided under the Act to an employee’s PTO or vacation account, then any unused paid leave would be payable to the employee upon the employee’s separation from employment in accordance with Illinois’s existing rules regarding vacation time.
Penalties and Enforcement
Employers who violate the Act are subject to a civil penalty of $2,500.00 for each separate offense, with some exceptions. All penalties collected will be deposited into the Paid Leave Workers Fund which was created in the Illinois state treasury and which shall be dedicated to enforcing the Act.
Disclaimer: The information contained herein is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. Employers should closely monitor the rules and regulations specific to their jurisdiction(s) and should seek advice from counsel relative to their rights and responsibilities.