Employment Law Resources

Illinois Paid Leave For All Workers Act and
2024 Employment Law Update
May 15, 2024 • Crowne Plaze Hotel

PRESENTATION

Presented By:
 Debbie Thompson, CEO-AOC, Consultant
Illinois Association of County Board Members and Commissioners / CIRMA

The Illinois Paid Leave for All Workers Act took effect January 1, 2024. This new law has raised many questions not only about the leave itself, but also about its administration, recordkeeping and effect on current policies. This session addressed the basic requirements of the law and answered the most common questions perplexing county employers.

Guidance for Paid Leave Policy: Nearly all employees — full-time and part-time — in Illinois are covered. Exclusions include temporary part-time student employees at state colleges and universities and short-term college or university employees (i.e., those employed for less than two consecutive calendar quarters and not expected to be rehired for the same service in the next calendar year).

The Act clarifies that it does not affect the validity or change the terms of a CBA in effect on January 1, 2024 (or July 1, 2024, for employees of a state agency); however, after that date, requirements of the Act may only be waived if a bona fide CBA explicitly includes a waiver in clear and unambiguous terms.

Important Employer considerations: Employers already offering at least 40 hours of discretionary paid leave will not have to provide additional paid leave to comply with the act. Employers should review the terms of existing paid leave programs to determine whether to take additional action. Employers may not need to do anything to change their policy, only how the 40 hours of discretionary paid leave is administered.

The key to utilizing existing paid leave programs is that the employee does not have to provide a reason for taking time off for the 40-hour paid leave time.

As part of this review, employers should decide whether to continue existing paid vacation or PTO policies that satisfy the act but require payout of unused PTO on employment separation or instead design a paid leave policy that complies with the act but does not require PTO payout on separation. Businesses with part-time workers who don’t qualify for the existing paid leave program will have to decide whether to offer a separate program or include part-time employees in the current plan.

Employers will be able to set a reasonable minimum increment of two or fewer hours for leave use. Unused accrued paid leave at year-end will carry over to the next year, but employers will not have to provide more than 40 hours of paid leave in each 12-month period.

Twelve-month period designated by the employer: Examples include an employee’s work anniversary date, a calendar year, an employer’s fiscal year or health plan year, or some other 12-month period. Employers have flexibility in designating the 12-month period, as long as they meet all of these requirements:

• The period must cover 12 consecutive months.
• The employer must provide written notice of the 12-month period at hire (or on or before Jan. 1, 2024, for current employees).
• Changes to the 12-month period must not reduce the accrual rate, and employees must receive advance notice of the change. If a change is made, the employer must provide documentation of each employee’s hours worked, paid leave accrued and taken, and remaining balance.

Frontloading: Instead of using the accrual method, employers may make the minimum hours (40 pro rata) of annual paid leave available on the first day of employment or the first day of the 12-month period. Employers that frontload paid leave won’t have to carry over unused amounts and may instead require forfeiture of unused leave before the end of the 12-month period.

Job protections: The act prohibits employers from requiring employees to find a replacement to work while they are on paid leave. The law also bars employers from including paid leave in a no-fault attendance policy or otherwise making use of paid leave a negative factor in work evaluations or promotional considerations. Any adverse action, threat of adverse action or other form of retaliation against employees is prohibited for these activities:

• Exercising rights under the act
• Opposing impermissible employer practices
• Supporting another worker’s rights under the act. Noncompliant employers could face civil penalties (see Enforcement and penalties below).

Employer responsibilities: In addition to providing paid leave and designating the 12-month period, covered employers will have to comply with posting and recordkeeping requirements.

Health plan coverage continuation: Employers will have to maintain group health plan coverage for an employee on paid leave at the same level and conditions as when the employee was actively working. Employers will have to notify employees about their responsibility to pay the employee share of the premium while on leave, if required. Employers will likely continue benefit deductions through the normal payroll process. This requirement does not extend to non-health benefits like life insurance or retirement plans.

Local ordinances: Employers subject to local ordinances requiring paid leave in effect on Jan. 1, 2024, will not have to comply with the act. At present, Chicago and Cook County generally require employers with at least one employee working at least two hours in a two-week period within the jurisdiction’s geographic boundaries to provide paid sick leave to covered employees. The exception appears to apply to all of an employer’s employees in the state, not just those employees working in Chicago and/or Cook County. Clarification from the ILDOL would be welcome.

Employers that are not subject to one or both of the local ordinances (or are in one of the approximately 100 municipalities that have opted out of the Cook County ordinance) will have to comply with the state paid leave law.

The act does not prohibit new local paid (sick or other) leave ordinances from taking effect but requires them to meet or exceed the act’s standards in terms of benefits, rights, and remedies.

Poster: Employers will have to post an ILDOL-created notice in a conspicuous place at the workplace and include the notice in an employee manual or policy. The notice will summarize the act’s requirements and contain information about employees’ enforcement rights. Employers with a “significant number” of employees who do not speak or write in English will have to request non-English-language notices from ILDOL for posting. Employers likewise must supply a foreign-language notice at an employee’s request. The term “significant number” is undefined in the act; ILDOL clarification would be welcome.

Recordkeeping: Covered employers will have to keep records of each employee’s hours worked, paid leave accrued and taken, and paid leave balance for at least three years and the duration of any claim involving the employer’s failure to comply with the law. Employers will have to make records available to the ILDOL on request. In addition, employers will have to make the amount of an employee’s paid leave accrued or used available on the employee’s request.

Enforcement and penalties: Employees will have three years after an alleged violation to file a complaint with ILDOL. Noncompliant employers will face liability for actual underpayment, compensatory damages and a $500–$1,000 penalty. Employees will also be entitled to equitable relief like attorney’s fees, expert witness expenses and other costs.

Employers should watch for ILDOL guidance, particularly around these issues:

• The pay rate for employees on leave
• The non-English-language notice requirement
• The exception for employers subject to the Chicago and/or Cook County ordinances
• The act’s interaction with the state law prohibiting forfeiture of earned or accrued vacation

Related resources

lllinois Department of Labor (ILDOL)
Paid Leave for All Workers Act (2023 Pub. Act 102-1143, SB 208)
Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act (820 IL Comp. Stat. 115/5)
Earned vacations rules (56 Ill. Admin. Code 300.520)
Vacation FAQs (ILDOL)
Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance interpretative and procedural rules (Cook County Commission on Human Rights, July 1, 2018)
Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance (Cook County Code of Ordinances §§. 42-1 et. seq.)
Chicago Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave Ordinance (Chicago Municipal Code Ch. 6-105)

NOTE: The Illinois Department of Labor published the final rules for the IPLFAWA on April 30, 2024, which can be found on their website.
IDOL Paid Leave for All Workers Act

The following is sample paid leave act policy content if your county does not have an existing paid leave policy for all employees. Remember, all employees (i.e., full time, part-time, temporary) are eligible for 40 hours of paid leave after January 1, 2024.

NOTE: Always review your policy with your legal counsel to ensure applicability with your County practices.

Sample Paid Leave Act Policy Content:

Accruals and use. Employees will be able to earn and use a minimum of 40 hours of paid leave during a 12-month period. Paid leave will accrue at a rate of one hour for every 40 hours worked and may be used for any purpose. Overtime-exempt employees will be deemed to work 40 hours each workweek unless their regular workweek is fewer than 40 hours. Employees will not have to give a reason for the leave, and employers will not be able to require documentation or certification for the leave.

Timing. Paid leave will begin accruing on the first day of employment or Jan. 1, 2024, whichever is later. Employees will be able to use paid leave 90 days after accruals begin. Employees will have the choice to use paid leave under this law before using any other leave provided by the employer or state law. In other words, the employer cannot require an employee to exhaust some other paid leave before using leave under this law. If a former employee is rehired within 12 months, all previously accrued but unused paid leave must be reinstated and made available for immediate use.

Notice. Employees will be able to request leave in writing or orally in accordance with the employer’s reasonable notification requirements. Employers will be able to require up to seven calendar days’ notice for foreseeable leaves. For unforeseeable leaves, employees will have to provide notice as soon as practicable. Employers will have to give employees written documentation of any required notice procedures.

Pay. Employees will receive their hourly pay rate while on leave. Employers will not have to pay out unused paid leave on employment separation unless the paid leave is credited to an employee’s paid time off (PTO) bank or vacation account, as required by the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act and rules.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCE
Illinois Employment Laws Effective January 1, 2024

Prepared by Debbie Thompson, M.A., SPHR – HR Consultant for CIRMA
The policy content and summary are intended to provide general guidance to the subject matter. County government officials are encouraged to consult with their HR Director and state's attorney for specific legal interpretations and opinions.