Illinois enacts mandatory paid time off ‘for any reason’

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois will become one of three states to require employers to provide paid time off for any reason after Gov. JB Pritzker signed legislation Monday that will go into effect next year.

Starting Jan. 1, Illinois employers must offer workers paid time off based on hours worked, with no need to explain the reason for their absence as long as they provide notice in accordance with reasonable standards. of the employer.

Only Maine and Nevada’s mandate saved time off and gave employees the freedom to decide how to use it, but Illinois’ law goes further, unhindered by time-based limits. size of the company. Similar structured regulations that require employers to provide paid sick leave exist in 14 states and Washington, DC, but workers can only use them for health reasons.

Illinois employees will accrue one hour of paid time off for every 40 hours worked up to 40 hours in total, although the employer may offer more. Employees can start using time once they have worked for 90 days. Seasonal workers will be exempt, as will federal employees or students who hold temporary part-time jobs for their university.

Pritzker signed the bill Monday in downtown Chicago, saying, “Too many people can’t afford to miss even one payday…together, we continue to build a state that serves really a beacon for families and businesses, and good paying jobs.”

Proponents say paid leave is key to ensuring that workers, especially low-income workers who are more vulnerable, can take time off when needed without fear of reprisal from an employer.

But critics say the law will overburden small businesses already struggling to survive the post-pandemic era amid high inflation that has gripped the country for nearly two years.

Illinois National Federation of Independent Business State Director Chris Davis said business owners are in the best position to work with their employees one-on-one to meet their needs.

The new law is “a unique solution to a more complex problem”, he said.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, a Democrat from Peoria, said the bill was the product of years of negotiations with business and labor groups.

“Everyone deserves the opportunity to take time off,” she said in a statement. “Whether it is to cope with the illness of a family member, or to take a step back for their mental health, the consecration of the rights to paid leave is a step forward for our State.”

“It’s about bringing dignity to all workers,” she said at the signing.

The Cook County and Chicago ordinances that already require employers to provide paid sick leave have been in place since July 2017, and workers in those locations will continue to be covered under existing laws rather than the new law. the state.

Any new local law enacted after state law takes effect must provide benefits greater than or equal to state law.

Molly Weston Williamson, paid leave expert at the Center for American Progress, said the law “creates a strong foundation that employers can build on while generating a healthier, more productive workforce.”

But Williamson added that while the Illinois law is a step in the right direction, U.S. paid vacation laws remain “woefully out of step with all of our economic peers internationally.”

“In the United States, federal law does not guarantee anyone the right to a single day of paid vacation. Not when you’re sick, not when you have a baby, not when your mother has a stroke. Not a single paid day,” she said.

Joan Van, a waitress at an international hotel chain and a single mother of three, currently has no paid leave.

But the Belleville parent leader with Community Organizing and Family Issues said knowing she’ll be five days old next year makes her smile.

“It’s going to help a lot of people, a lot of mothers, a lot of single mothers as well,” she said.


Savage is a member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative body. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to report on underreported issues.

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