MOST EMPLOYEES IN ILLINOIS WILL SOON BE ABLE TO TAKE UP TO 40 HOURS OF PAID LEAVE FOR ANY REASON. The Paid Leave for All Workers Act was signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker on January 12, and will take effect on January 1, 2024. The law makes Illinois the third state mandating paid time off to employees for any reason. The Illinois law may not be the end of the world for many employers. Employers in Chicago or Cook County already subject to mandatory paid sick leave laws, or covered by a municipal or county ordinance as of the effective date of the Act, are not subject to the PLFAW. There are also carveouts for school districts organized under the School Code and park districts organized under the Park District Code. College or university students who work less than full-time for the college or university are also not considered “employees” under the PLFAW. But employers with employees in Illinois should still take a close look at the law’s details, outlined below.

FOR EMPLOYEES TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE PAID LEAVE, THEY MUST have been employed for 90 days following the effective date of the law, or 90 days following the start of their employment, whichever is later. Employees can accrue up to 40 hours in a 12-month period, and employers can choose the 12-month leave period, as long as they do so in writing at the time of the hire. If employees do not use all of their earned 40 hours of paid leave, the remaining hours can be carried over to the next 12-month period. However, if employers “front load” at least 40 hours of paid leave to employees on the first day of employment or the first day of the applicable 12-month leave period, they do not have to let the employees’ unused hours carry over into the following year.

EMPLOYERS MUST allow eligible employees to use the accrued paid leave upon the employee’s oral or written request in accordance with the employer’s reasonable paid leave policy notification requirements, which are determined by the employer. Employees taking leave must be paid their hourly rate. (Employees receiving the minimum wage for tipped employees must receive the full minimum wage that applies in the jurisdiction where they are employed.) Employers must provide notice to employees if they make any changes to the 12-month leave period. Additionally, if changes are made are to the leave period, the employer must provide employees with documentation of the balance of hours worked, paid leave accrued and taken, and the remaining paid leave balance.

EMPLOYERS MAY require employees to provide up to seven calendar days’ notice before the paid leave is used if use of the paid leave is foreseeable. If the paid leave is not foreseeable, the employee must provide notice to the employer as soon as practicable after becoming aware of the need for leave. An employer that requires notice of paid leave under the PLFAW even when the leave is not foreseeable must have a written policy that contains procedures for the employees to provide notice. Additionally, the employer may not require that the employee search for or find a replacement worker to cover the hours during which the employee takes paid leave.

EMPLOYERS, IT’S TIME TO PREPARE! 2024 will be here before we know it, so it’s time for employers to get ready for the PFLAW. First, employers should review their current policies. If you already have a policy that provides 40 hours of paid leave to employees for any reason, there may be nothing to change! Second, if you do not already have a written policy regarding paid leave, start drafting one, and ensure that it is specifically tailored to meet the PLFAW’s minimum requirements. Third, feel free to contact us if you have any questions about the PLFAW and how it applies to your employees.

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