Illinois Paid Leave Law Guidance
State officials have released guidance on the new Illinois paid leave law, which allows workers to use the time for any reason.
A bank of FAQs were released in late May 2023, following the passage of the law in March of this year.
The Illinois paid leave law requires private employers to provide up to 40 hours of paid leave in a 12-month period to their employees.
Paid Leave Management. Simplified.
Illinois Paid Leave Law Guidance
As a refresher, similar to two other states — Nevada and Maine — the Illinois paid leave can be taken for any reason — employees are not required to give their employer a reason for taking leave. (Bernalillo County, N.M., also has a similar law.)
Now, under the latest guidance from the Illinois Department of Labor, there is some clarity for employers, though there could be additional information coming prior to the effective dates in 2024. Here are a few noteworthy items so far.
How to Manage Paid Leave for Remote and Hybrid Workers
Employers that offer benefits that meet the minimum requirement of Illinois’ paid leave law do not have to provide additional leave.
What About Cook County?
Though Cook County, Ill., has its own paid leave law (which allows cities to opt in or out of the ordinance), employers that operate in the county must adhere to the requirements of the state law, regardless of whether the city has opted out of the local ordinance.
Related: Illinois Pay Transparency Law
Are Part-Time Employees Covered?
Both full- and part-time employees are covered.
Is Frontloading Allowed?
Frontloading of paid leave is allowed.
However, employers should note that the accrual rate under the law is one hour for every 40 hours worked. And for part-time workers that may not accrue a full 40 hours of leave by the end of the year, they are still entitled to some paid time off based on the number of hours they worked.
State officials provided an example in the FAQs:
Employee A works 15 hours per week, 52 weeks per year. They will accrue 19.5 hours of paid leave annually. (15 times 52 = 780 hours worked per year. 780 divided by 40 = 19.5 hours of paid leave.)
When Can Employees Begin Using Leave?
Notably, employees begin accruing paid leave at the outset of 2024, but there is a 90-day waiting period before use.
So, employees can begin using paid leave under the Illinois law starting March 31, 2024. Here, the Illinois Department of Labor offers two additional examples:
Example 1: The Paid Leave for All Workers Act takes effect Jan. 1, 2024. Six months later, Employee B starts a new job on July 1, 2024, and works 40 hours per week. They start accruing paid leave on their first day (July 1) but must wait 90 days (until Sept. 29, 2024) before taking any of their accrued paid leave.
Example 2: Employee C has worked for their employer since 2019 but did not previously get paid time off. Employee C will begin accruing paid time off beginning Jan. 1, 2024 (the effective date of the Act.)
County and City Paid Sick Leave Laws
Other Aspects of Illinois Paid Leave for Any Reason
- Any earned but unused paid leave must be carried over to the following year unless the employer frontloads the employee’s leave at the beginning of the 12-month period
- The leave must be paid at the employee’s hourly rate of pay. Employees who receive tips or commissions that are recognized as part of their pay must be paid the greater of the full minimum wage in the jurisdiction employed when the paid leave is taken, or their hourly rate
- Employers must keep records of each employee’s hours worked, paid leave accrued and taken, and the remaining paid leave balance for at least three years
- Employers are required to display the associated labor law poster
The ABCs of Paid Leave
Managing Paid Leave Laws
With Illinois joining the handful of jurisdictions that allow employees to use paid leave for any reason, it adds another layer of complexity regarding employment law compliance.
Plus, it looks as though a Maine paid family and medical leave (PFML) law could be in place soon, which would swell the number of states with PFML to 13. And Minnesota recently passed two paid leave laws:
The process of tracking and applying paid leave has never been more challenging. These laws are increasing in number. Though paid sick leave is still the most common, there has been a push from legislators for more leave types, such as paid family and medical leave. And, as is the case in Illinois, paid leave that does not require certain covered reasons for use.
Paid Leave Glossary
Illinois Paid Leave Law Guidance: Conclusion
The Illinois paid leave law guidance at this point addresses some high-level items, but employers with locations in Illinois should keep an eye out for additional guidance regarding the act.
As a reminder, employees begin accruing paid leave Jan. 1, 2024, with benefits available March 31, 2024.