Margaret Gentzen, Attorney
Pete Cosgrove, Attorney
On March 13, 2023, Illinois Governor, J.B. Pritzker, signed into law Senate Bill 208, known as the Illinois Paid Leave for All Workers Act, that will go into effect on January 1, 2024. Under the Act, nearly every Illinois employee is entitled to up to 40 hours of paid leave during a 12-month period.
Although there are some exceptions as discussed below, the Act applies to all private sector employers regardless of size, as well as state and local governments.
The Act does not apply to employees covered under the Railway Labor Act, temporary college or university employees, employees working in the construction industry under a bona fide collective bargaining agreement, and employees covered by a bona fide CBA with an employer that provides services nationally and internationally of delivery, pickup, and transportation of parcels, documents, and freight.
New Leave Requirements
The leave accrues at a rate of one hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked. Employees who work less than 40 hours per week accrue paid leave based on their regular work weeks. Employees begin to accrue leave on their first day of employment, but cannot use it until they have been employed for 90 calendar days.
While on leave, employees are paid at their hourly rate, which does not include commissions or gratuities, provided that their hourly rate remains above minimum wage.
No Notice Required for Unexpected Leave
Employers may require employees to provide seven days’ notice before taking “foreseeable” leave under the Act. However, if the employee’s leave is unforeseeable, the employee need only provide notice as soon as practicable after becoming aware of the need for the leave period.
Prohibited Actions by Employer
Employers may not require employees to find cover or a replacement employee.
Employers cannot require employees to provide any proof in support of this leave, such as a doctor’s note.
Record Keeping Requirements
Employers shall keep employees’ time and leave records for at least three years.
Posting and Notice Requirements
Employers must post a notice of the employees’ right to take this leave, and must send all employees written notice of the paid leave entitlement. The written notice can be in an updated employee manual.
It is unlawful for an employer to consider an employee’s use of paid leave as a negative factor in any employment decision, including those relating to promotion, discipline, or termination.
Employers found to have violated the Act are subject to actual damages, compensatory damages, attorneys’ fees/costs, and equitable relief. Additionally, an employer that violates the Act will be subject to a civil penalty of $2,500 for each separate offense.
The Act goes into effect on January 1, 2024, and therefore employers must be in compliance with the Act by that time. Employees may begin using this new leave on March 31, 2024.
The Illinois Paid Leave for all Workers Act will affect nearly every employer, but employers can take steps now to prepare for these new requirements. We recommend employers take the following actions:
- Employee Handbooks must be updated to reflect employees’ rights for this new leave, and existing leave policies should be reviewed to determine if they are compliant. Even employers with generous leave policies should review their policies to ensure that leave accrual start dates are consistent with the Act.
- Retain all employees’ hourly records for at least three years.
- Provide training to management staff on employees’ right to use this leave, and implications for discipline.
- Post the appropriate notice provided by the Illinois Department of Labor when it is issued.
For questions regarding general issues or to discuss specific individual situations, please contact the Fox Smith, LLC Employment Law Group at www.foxsmithlaw.com or (314) 588-7000.
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