SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — Most workers in the state will have paid time off starting next year.
A new law allows employees who are currently not offered paid time off to accrue 40 hours of paid leave per year to be used after 90 days of employment. The law is required for nearly any employee in the state; it excludes independent contractors as well as some employees in the construction and parcel delivery industries who have a collective bargaining agreement in place.
Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the law at a news conference Monday afternoon.
“Employers benefit from allowing employees to tend to the urgent personal matters of their lives,” the governor said. “Workers’ productivity increases, and they often gain greater passion for their job when they can manage the stresses they face outside work. I’m exceptionally proud that labor and business came together to recognize the value of this requirement to employees and employers alike.”
Illinois is the third state in the nation to guarantee paid time off after Nevada and Maine.
“For far too long, more than two million Illinoisans were forced to decide between getting a paycheck or taking time off to address their personal or familial needs,” Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria), the House sponsor of the law, said. “Because of the legislation Governor Pritzker has signed into law today, Illinois workers will no longer have to face that decision and will have at least five days of paid leave each year to be used however they see fit.”
The time off can be used for any reason. Employees are also not required to find a replacement during their leave.
Cherita Ellens, President and CEO of Women Employed, said 1.5 million workers in the state are affected by the new law.
“This is a critical step towards helping level the playing field of workplace rights for working people- particularly women and people of color in low paid jobs,” Ellens said.
Some advocates for the bill argue it will keep Illinoisans healthier as they can use the time off for preventative care and cancer screenings.
“This legislation will provide paid time off to eligible employees in Illinois which will help reduce the burden of cancer in our state,” American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network Government Relations Director Ally Lopshire said. “The state program would allow more individuals to take time off work to attend to their own or a loved one’s medical appointments and health care without losing their job or income.”
The National Federation of Independent Businesses worries how it will affect the state’s smallest businesses.
“This is a burden on the smallest of small businesses, those with less than five employees, with two or three employees who, on a daily basis, find it difficult to do know whether they’re going to keep their doors open for a full day, if somebody doesn’t unfortunately show up for work,” Chris Davis, the Illinois State Director of NFIB, said.
The law will go into effect at the start of 2024. Employees can start using the days on March 31, 2024.