Beginning January 1, 2024, employees in Illinois began to accrue Paid Leave, which they’ll be able to use for any purpose. 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) has created 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 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).
Effective December 31, 2023, and enforceable February 1, 2024, the Cook County Paid Leave Ordinance (formerly the Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance) requires that covered employees earn at least one hour of paid leave for every 40 hours they work for an employer in the county and that the leave hours can be used for any reason. Employees covered by the Cook County ordinance are those who work in the county or whose employer has a place of business there. Employees may begin using leave 90 days after beginning employment or on March 30, 2024 (90 days after the effective date of the ordinance), whichever is later.
The previous ordinance was specifically designed for sick leave purposes (the employee could use it if they or a family member were sick), but under the newly revised ordinance, paid leave can be taken for any reason. Of note, this change to the law better aligns the county’s leave law with the state’s Paid Leave for All Workers Act, which is already being enforced.
- Update your existing paid leave policies to bring them into compliance with the standards of the Cook County Paid Leave Ordinance before February 1, 2024.
- Provide employees with notice about their paid leave rights by displaying it in a conspicuous place at each facility where any employee works that is located within the geographic boundaries of Cook County. Employers that do not maintain a business facility within the geographic boundaries of the county are exempt from this requirement. Additionally, employers must provide individual notice to each employee upon hire, advising them of their rights to paid leave.
- The Cook County Board of Commissioners will adopt interpretative and procedural rules for its enforcement of the Cook County Paid Leave Ordinance in early 2024. Resourcing Edge will share any additional guidance as it becomes available.
For employers with 50 or more full-time employees in Illinois, the Illinois Child Extended Bereavement Leave Act (CEBLA) became effective January 1, 2024. The CEBLA entitles employees to an additional amount of unpaid, job-protected leave when they lose a child because of homicide or suicide. The amount of leave depends on employer size. Those with 50–249 employees must provide up to six weeks of leave, while those with 250 or more employees must provide up to 12 weeks.
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.
Effective January 1, 2024, employers with employees who don’t regularly report to a physical workplace need to provide certain required notices electronically. This includes the notices for the following laws:
- Illinois Minimum Wage Law
- Illinois Equal Pay Act
- Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act
- Illinois Child Labor Law
You can provide these notices by email or post them somewhere conspicuous on your company’s website or intranet if you regularly use the website or intranet to communicate work-related information, and it can be accessed freely by all employees.