Beginning January 1, 2024, employees in Illinois will accrue Paid Leave, which they’ll be able to use for any purpose. The Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) has published FAQs for employers. IDOL is also working on final rules that will clarify how the law should be applied—those should be released no later than March 31, 2024. In the meantime, a draft of the proposed rules was filed November 3, 2023.
The new law applies to employers of all sizes and almost all employees are covered, with limited exceptions. Employers that are covered by a municipal or county ordinance that requires them to provide any form of paid leave to employees (currently Chicago and Cook County) should continue to follow those municipal or county requirements for employees in those locations. Note that employers located in Cook County must provide state paid leave if they’re in a municipality that opted out of the Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance.
Accrual and Carryover
Employees will accrue Paid Leave at a rate of one hour of Paid Leave for every 40 hours worked. Employers can calculate exempt employee accrual based on a 40-hour workweek (even if the employee generally works more than that) or they can use their normal workweek if they regularly work less than 40 hours.
Employers can cap accrual at 40 hours per year. Unused Paid Leave must be carried over from year to year. (The proposed rules suggest that carryover can be capped at 80 hours per year, but you can still limit use to 40 hours per year, as covered below.)
Instead of using an hour-by-hour accrual system, employers can frontload an employee’s Paid Leave bank with 40 hours at the beginning of each year, in which case they don’t need to allow carryover of unused Paid Leave.
Employees can begin to use their Paid Leave on March 31, 2024, or after 90 days of employment, whichever is later. Employers may cap use of leave at 40 hours per year.
Employees may use Paid Leave for any reason. Employers cannot require documentation to support an employee’s request for Paid Leave.
Employees are entitled to determine how much Paid Leave to use, though employers can require them to use their Paid Leave in minimum increments of two hours, or their entire workday, if shorter than two hours.
Employers are required to provide employees with notice about their Paid Leave rights by displaying a poster at each worksite and providing individual notice to each employee. Employers that have a handbook or policy manual must include it there as well. The Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) will create the required notice.
Employers can require employees to provide seven days’ notice for foreseeable leave and as much notice as is practicable for unforeseeable leave.
Employers aren’t required to pay out unused Paid Leave when an employee quits or is terminated. Employees who are rehired within 12 months of separation must have their unused Paid Leave restored.
Employers can use their existing vacation or paid time off policy to fulfill their obligations under the new Paid Leave law, as long as it offers equal or better benefits. In that case, however, unused vacation or paid time off must be paid out when an employee separates from employment (as required for vacation and paid time off under state law).
Resourcing Edge will share additional guidance as soon as it is released.
Not to be outdone by the state, on November 9th, Chicago has beefed up its paid (sick) leave requirements significantly. As of December 31, 2023, the city will replace its Paid Sick Leave ordinance with a more robust Paid Leave and Paid Sick and Safe Leave Ordinance. Under the new ordinance, employees will be entitled to accrue two separate types of leave: Paid Leave that can be used for any reason, and Paid Sick Leave that can be used for the reasons allowed by Chicago’s previous paid sick leave law. Here are some highlights:
- Accrual: Both types of leave begin to accrue on January 1, 2024 (or upon hire, whichever is later) at a rate of one hour for every 35 hours worked (so, an employee who works 35 hours will have earned one hour of Paid Sick Leave and one hour of Paid Leave). Employers can cap accrual at 40 hours per year for each type of leave.
- Carryover: Employees can carry over up to 16 hours of Paid Leave and up to 80 hours of Paid Sick Leave per year.
- Use: Employers can’t cap use of either type of leave but can impose a 30-day waiting period on Paid Sick Leave use and a 90-day waiting period on Paid Leave use, from the time of hire.
- Payout of Accrued but Unused Leave at Termination: Employers don’t have to pay out unused Paid Sick Leave. However, with respect to Paid Leave, employers with 101 or more employees have to pay out any unused Paid Leave at termination. Midsize employers (51–100 employees) have to pay out up to 16 hours of unused Paid Leave in 2024, and all of it in 2025. Small employers don’t have to pay out unused Paid Leave.
Be aware that some of the other details of this law are never-before-seen in paid leave or sick leave laws. For instance, if either type of leave was unreasonably denied, employers must increase the amount of carryover allowed to credit the employee for the leave they weren’t allowed to take.
- Update your policy to comply with the new ordinance.
- Resourcing Edge will share additional guidance and the required notice as soon as it is released.
The Illinois Child Extended Bereavement Leave Act (CEBLA) is effective January 1, 2024, and entitles employees to an additional amount of unpaid, job-protected leave when they lose a child because of homicide or suicide. The CEBLA leave amounts are as follows:
- Large employers—with 250 or more employees—must provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to their full-time employees; and
- Small employers—with at least 50 but less than 250 employees—must provide up to six weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to their employees who have worked for them for at least two weeks.
Leave can be taken in a single, continuous period or incrementally, but in no less than four-hour increments. It also must be taken within a year after the employee notifies their employer of their loss. Employers can require reasonable advance notice of the employee’s need for leave, unless it’s unreasonable or unpracticable for them to provide notice. Employers can also require reasonable documentation, e.g., verification of memorial services from a funeral home, and documentation with the cause of death.
Employees who are entitled to take paid or unpaid leave (including family, medical, sick, annual, personal, similar leave, or through an employment benefits program) may substitute that other leave for an equivalent period of child extended bereavement leave. However, CEBLA doesn’t extend the maximum leave period employees are entitled to under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act or under any other paid or unpaid leave entitlement. Additionally, employees can’t take leave under the Illinois Family Bereavement Act for the death of a child when they already used CEBLA leave for that same child.
Illinois’ Employee Blood Donation Leave Act has been amended and renamed the Employee Blood and Organ Donation Leave Act. Starting January 1, 2024, employers with 51 or more employees are required to allow full-time employees who have worked for them for at least six months to take up to 10 days of paid leave in any 12-month period to serve as an organ or tissue donor.
The Victims’ Economic Safety and Security Act (VESSA) has been amended to expand the list of circumstances for which employees may take leave. Starting January 1, 2024, employees can take leave if a family or household member was killed as a victim of violent crime. Employees may use up to two workweeks (10 workdays) of unpaid leave to attend the funeral, make arrangements, or grieve the death of a family or household member who was killed in a crime of violence. This leave must be completed within 60 days after the date the employee receives notice of the victim’s death. Additionally, the employee cannot take leave that exceeds, or is in addition to, unpaid bereavement leave that may be available under the Family Bereavement Leave Act (FBLA). The amendment also outlines certification requirements for this expanded use of leave.