Illinois enacts mandatory paid leave ‘for any reason’

After Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed Monday a law that will go into effect next year.

Beginning Jan. 1, Illinois employers will be required to offer paid time off to workers based on hours worked. Workers do not need explanations for absences as long as notice is given in accordance with reasonable employer standards.

Only Maine and Nevada have mandated paid time time off, and allow employees to choose how they use it. However, Illinois’ law goes further, and is not limited by business size limits. Similar regulations require employers in 14 states and Washington, D.C. to offer paid sick time, but they can only be used by workers for health-related reasons.

Illinois employees can accrue an hour of paid time for each 40 hours worked, up to 40 total hours. However, the employer may offer more. After 90 days of service, employees can begin using the time. Federal employees and college students working part-time for their universities will also be exempt.


Pritzker signed Monday’s bill in Chicago. He stated that too many people cannot afford to miss even one day of pay. Together, we will continue to build a state which truly serves as a beacon to families, businesses, and good-paying jobs.

According to proponents, paid leave is crucial to ensuring workers, particularly low-income workers, who are more vulnerable to being fired, can take time off as needed without fear of reprisal.

Critics say that the law will burden small businesses already struggling with high inflation and the post-pandemic era.

Chris Davis, director of the National Federation of Independent Business Illinois, stated that business owners are better positioned to help their employees individually to meet their needs.

He said that the new law was “a one-size fits all solution to a more complex problem.”

Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth (a Peoria Democrat) is the bill sponsor. He said that the bill was the result of years of negotiations between businesses and labor organizations.

She stated that everyone deserves to be able to take time off. “Whether you need to take time off to care for a loved one or for your own mental health, the enshrining of paid leave rights is a positive step for our state.”

She stated that the signing was about “bringing dignity to all workers”.

Since July 2017, ordinances in Chicago and Cook County requiring employers to offer paid sick leaves have been in effect. Workers in these locations will continue to be covered under existing laws, rather than new state law.

Any new local laws that are enacted after the state’s law has taken effect must offer benefits greater than or equal to the state.

Molly Weston Williamson of the Center for American Progress is a paid leave expert. She said that the law creates a solid foundation for employers and generates a healthier, more productive workforce.

Williamson said that, while Illinois’ law is a positive step in the right direction it was not sufficient to compensate for U.S. paid-leave laws.

Federal law in the United States does not guarantee that anyone will be granted a paid day off from work. You can’t take a day off work if you are sick, if you have a baby or if your mom is having a stroke. She said that not a single day was paid.

Joan Van is a server at an international chain of hotels and a single mother of three. She currently does not receive any paid time off.

The Belleville parent leader in Community Organizing and Family Issues shared that the thought of having five days next year makes her smile.

She said, “It’s going help out a lot people, a lot more mothers, and a lot more single mothers at that.”