Five days paid leave guaranteed for Illinois workers under law signed by Pritzker

Starting next year, workers will begin to earn paid leave on their first day at a rate of one hour of leave for every 40 hours worked, up to 40 hours of paid leave for the year.

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs a bill on Monday mandating paid leave for Illinois workers starting in 2024.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs a bill on Monday mandating paid leave for Illinois workers starting in 2024.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

SPRINGFIELD — Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday signed into law a bill ensuring at least 40 hours of paid leave for Illinois workers. 

Effective Jan. 1, 2024, workers will begin to earn paid leave on their first day at a rate of one hour of leave for every 40 hours worked, up to 40 hours of paid leave for the year. Employees can begin using their paid leave either 90 days after their employment begins or 90 days after the act’s effective date. 

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Employers are free to offer more than 40 hours.

“Today we will become the third state in the nation to require paid time off and the first among the largest states,” Pritzker said at a bill-signing ceremony in Chicago. “I’m exceptionally proud that labor and business came together to recognize the value of this requirement to employees and employers alike.”

The measure passed in both chambers earlier this year during the 102nd General Assembly’s lame duck session. 

Gov. J.B Pritzker, joined by state elected officials and business and labor union leaders, speaks to reporters before signing a bill mandating paid leave for Illinois workers on Monday.

Gov. J.B Pritzker, joined by state elected officials and business and labor union leaders, speaks to reporters before signing a bill mandating paid leave for Illinois workers on Monday.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Prior to the act’s effective date, Illinois workers have not been guaranteed paid time off for sick leave, child care, medical appointments or any other reason. 

“About 4 million workers … in Illinois do not have access to even a single sick day,” said state Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Westchester, who sponsored the bill in the Senate. 

The measure has been under negotiation since 2019 and has “changed hands” a number of times since its inception, Lightford said. 

Lightford, who is the Senate’s majority leader, acknowledged former state Sen. Toi Hutchinson, who served from 2009 until 2019 and was an original sponsor of the bill. 

“This is an issue that has been lingering around the General Assembly for far too long,” Lightford said. “I’m really glad it landed in my lap when it came over to the Senate.”

When Senate Bill 208 was debated on the floor in January, a key point of opposition was that it would burden small businesses by raising costs. 

Illinois Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford speaks to reporters before Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs the bill on Monday.

Illinois Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford speaks to reporters before Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs the bill on Monday.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

“My major concern are the little guys. It’s the mom-and-pops that have five, 10, maybe 13 employees, that this has a significant impact on their budgets,” state Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer, R-Jacksonville, said during the debate. 

Pritzker pushed back against that sentiment at the bill signing ceremony. 

“Just like bigger businesses, small businesses want their workers to be more productive, to be able to deal with their stresses, emergencies at home, so they can be better and more productive at work,” Pritzker said.

“I want to encourage anybody who’s concerned about that to look at, and remind the workers who work for them, how important it is that we have a law like that that protects workers in the state of Illinois.”

The measure does not apply to employees subject to collectively bargained contracts, because time off would be subject to negotiations between the union and the employer. 

Ultimately, the measure received a few Republican votes in the House but passed the Senate with only Democratic support. 

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide, as well as hundreds of radio and TV stations. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

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