Illinois’ Paid Leave For All Workers Act: What Is It And What’s Next For Employers?
The Paid Leave for All Workers Act (the “Act”), or Senate Bill 208, finally hits the stage, waiting for Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s signature after passing both houses on January 10, 2023. Agreement was reached on the bill after the legislature essentially did a complete remodel of it from its original form.
The Act would require Illinois employers to provide qualified employees the ability to earn and use up to forty (40) hours of paid leave during a 12 month period for any purpose. After its January 1, 2024 proposed effective date, Illinois would become the third U.S. State to enact legislation mandating paid leave for workers.
Who’s Covered Under the Paid Leave For All Workers Act?
All Illinois employers are subject to the Act, including units of state and local government. However, school districts organized under the School Code and/or park districts organized under the Park District Code are employers exempt under the Act.
As for employees, the Act cover all employees except for:
- Employees covered under the federal Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act or the Railway Labor Act;
- Student-employees enrolled at a college or university and employed on a temporary basis;
- Short-term employees of an institution of higher learning;
- Construction industry employees covered under a collective bargaining agreement;
- Employees covered by a bona fide collective bargaining agreement with an employer that provides national or international services of delivery, pickup, and transportation of parcels, documents, and freight; or
- Employers covered by municipal or county ordinances in effect on January 1, 2024, that provide for paid leave or paid sick leave.
- After January 1, 2024, any municipal or county ordinance enacted or amended must comply with the Act or give greater protections to employees.
What Can Employers and Employees Expect?
Employees may accrue paid leave hours at a rate of one hour per every 40 hours worked. For example, if an employee works every week in one month at 40 hours, at the end of the month, he/she/they would have accrued four paid leave hours.
Any unused, accrued paid leave will carry over to the next year.
If an employer wishes, it may “frontload” the entire minimum 40 hours of paid leave to an employee on the first day of employment or the first day in a 12-month period instead of an accrual. In this scenario, an employee may not “bank” paid leave hours to carry over to the next year. Paid leave accrues at the date of hire or the effective date of the Act, whichever is later.
Note, the Act has some strings attached — employers may enact policies that dictate what is “reasonable” under its notification requirements. The Act uses a foreseeability standard to determine reasonableness and notification requirements.
- If paid leave is foreseeable to an employer, an employee must give seven days’ notice.
- If paid leave is not foreseeable, the employee is required to provide notice as soon as possible. However, an employer may not require documentation to support a paid leave request.
Key Considerations for Employers
While employers with existing 40 hour paid leave policies are not required to take action under the Act, others have just under one year to plan and implement new policies under these new guidelines.
Key considerations for employers to get ahead of these changes include:
- Updating existing (if any) policies to meet the requirements of the Act;
- Scheduling trainings to educate management, HR, or people teams on compliance with the Act; and
- Revising internal processes to account for and track paid leave accrual.