One of the new laws for 2024 that applies to any business that has employees is the Illinois Paid Leave for All Workers Act. This new Act requires employers to provide employees with at least 40 hours of paid leave per year.
This Act applies to ALL employers. No minimum number of employees is required to fall under the obligations of this law, and it applies to ALL employees, Full-time and Part-time.
Employees accrue one hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked, up to a minimum of 40 hours per 12-month period. Leave accrues in 15-minute increments. You must round up any period less than 15 minutes.
If your employees accrue their leave, the Act says they may carry over up to 80 hours of leave. But the following sentence says an employee is not entitled to use more than 40 hours a year. I emailed the Department of Labor about this contradiction, and their explanation did not clarify it. If you frontload the leave, you don’t have to carry it over.
Leave can be frontloaded. If you frontload leave by providing your employees the minimum required number of paid leave hours available for use on the employee’s first day of employment or the first day of any 12 months, you must give written notice to the employee informing them of how many paid leave hours they are receiving on or before the first day of employment or on or before the first day of the 12 months. If an employee uses all their frontloaded leave and then terminates their employment before working longer enough to have earned it, you cannot diminish or recoup that used frontloaded leave.
Employees can use this leave for any purpose. They don’t have to give you a reason for taking the leave, and you can’t ask. They also don’t have to provide you with any written documentation for a doctor if they use it for medical reasons.
They can take this leave in a minimum of two-hour increments.
If an employee quits or is terminated and they have not used all their leave, you don’t have to pay it out as you do for other leave you may already be providing under the Wage Payment and Collection Act.
Some good news. If you already provide leave that meets the minimum requirements, you don’t need to provide any additional leave, but there may be some requirements related to your written policy that need to be updated.
If you have been providing PTO or vacation to your employees, that is a different kind of paid time than this new paid leave. If you offer vacation and new leave, you have to account for them separately and give your employees the choice of which one they want to use.
If you have tipped or commissioned employees, they must be paid at the regular minimum wage, not the lower tipped minimum wage.
If the employee’s need for leave is foreseeable, you can require seven days’ notice. If it is a sudden need, the employee must let you know as soon as it is practical for them. But this all needs to be in writing in your leave policy. A written leave policy is an essential component of compliance with the law.
You can’t deny an employee’s request to use paid leave unless you can justify it with solid business or safety reasons.
You can restrict an employee to taking leave only during their regular workweek. So, if you have an employee who only works weekends, they can’t take their paid leave on Wednesday unless you allow it.
The state of Illinois published a poster outlining these rules, which you must post with your other required employment posters. You can get that poster at the Illinois Department of Labor website.
The Act has rules about how the leave accrues, how it is tracked, how an employee requests it, and what an employer can require from the employee when requesting leave. And as I’ve mentioned, there are also additional requirements regarding written policies and procedures for taking leave.
Failure to properly pay your employees this leave or to have a written policy in place could cost your business a significant amount of money in fines and penalties when discovered by the State of Illinois. Each violation of the Act carries a minimum penalty of $2,500.
If you have questions about this new law, please get in touch with us at 618.713.9264.
We also offer a video course with a sample leave policy for $49. You can find more information about that course at: Mastering the Maze: Navigating the Illinois Paid Leave for All Workers Act (thinkific.com).