Illinois adds new paid time off mandate

SPRINGFIELD – As of January 1, 2024, Illinois business owners with five or more employees will be required to provide a minimum of 40 hours of paid leave for any reason per 12 months for all full-time employees.

SB 208 allows employees to begin to use their paid time off after three months on the job – and what they don’t use in 12 months will carry over. For part-time workers, one hour of paid leave is to be accrued for every 40 hours worked.

In addition to lowering the number of employees from 25 down to five for businesses to which the policy will apply, SB 208 makes it unlawful for employers to interfere with, restrain, deny, or change scheduled work days or hours to avoid paid leave, or discipline an employee for implementing the state-mandated benefit. 

The bill has yet to be signed by Governor JB Pritzker. However, he issued a statement soon after SB 208 passed the Illinois-Democrat-controlled House and Senate in the final hours of the 102nd General Assembly’s lame-duck session, congratulating the sponsors and anticipating a signing ceremony.

“Working families face enough challenges without the concern of losing a day’s pay when life gets in the way. I’m looking forward to signing this legislation and giving a safety net to hardworking Illinoisans,” Pritzker’s press release said.

“Thank you to all the legislators and advocates who championed this legislation and made this law possible, particularly Leader Gordon-Booth and Leader Lightford, who have been at the forefront of this issue.”

The measure, sources say, had been negotiated for several years with business groups such as the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, the Illinois Chamber, and the Illinois Manufacturing Association.

One political blog reported in the final hours before passage that several of those business groups took a neutral position on SB 208, concerned the final version could require even more from employers.

Despite their lack of support, the House and Senate passed the final version that allows Chicago and other home rule units to enact more PTO requirements on local businesses.

When the bill is enacted next January, Illinois employers will be required to document their employees’ paid time off, and the Department of Labor (DOL) can ask to review those records at any time. The DOL will provide notices for employers to post publicly in their workplaces and distribute them individually to team members.

There are several exceptions to the new mandate, including employees working under a collective bargaining agreement and other particular circumstances listed in the bill.

Any Illinois employer that fails to enact the new law could be penalized $2500 per incident.