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Illinois Paid Leave

Do all employers have to provide paid leave in Illinois?

Starting on January 1, 2024, Illinois employers will be required to offer paid sick leave to their employees.  The Illinois Paid Leave for All Workers Act will require all employers (even including those who employ domestic workers as well as state and local governments except schools and park districts) to provide a minimum amount of paid sick leave to the employees.  Unless the employer is required to provide paid sick leave under a more robust law (including the sick leave ordinances provided to employers in Chicago or Cook County), Illinois employers will be required to pay up to one week of sick leave per year. 

How much paid leave should Illinois employers provide?

Illinois employees must accrue 1 hour of sick leave for every 40 hours worked.  Paid sick leave begins to accrue on the first day of employment, but employees are not entitled to take the leave until they have worked 90 for days (or March 31, 2024, whichever is later).  Alternatively, the employer may choose to provide a bank of hours that begins on the employee’s first day of employment or the first day of a 12-month period (where the hours are front-loaded and may be taken before they are “accrued”).  If the employer chooses to use the bank of hours approach, then the employer is not required to carry-over any hours and may have a “use-it-or-lose-it” policy.   

Do employees need to provide notice to use leave?

If the need for using paid sick leave is foreseeable, the employer may require that the employee provide 7 calendar days’ notice of his or her intent to take leave.  However, if the employee cannot foresee the need to take the sick leave, then the notice to the employer needs to be make as soon as practicable.  Employees are not required to find “coverage” for their missing work hours if they are taking sick leave.  Unlike the Family Medical Leave Act, Employees are not required to provide medical documentation supporting the need for the sick leave.   

Can an employer retaliate if an employee takes paid leave?

Employees may not be retaliated against for taking paid sick leave.  Claims for retaliation under the Paid Leave for All Workers Act should file a claim with the Illinois Department of Labor, and an aggrieved employee is entitled to recover all legal and equitable relief as may be appropriate including back-pay, emotional distress damages, and penalties as well as attorneys’ fees and costs incurred in pursuing the action.  

Can a handbook waive the right to take paid leave?

Employers should review their handbooks and employment policies to ensure that they are in compliance with this new sick leave law.  Employees cannot waive their rights to paid sick leave.