Presented by Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale, P.C.
By: Scott Cruz, Employment & Labor Attorney
The Illinois legislature recently passed the Paid Leave for All Workers (PLFAW) Act, which will require most Illinois employers to provide their employees working in Illinois with up to 40 hours of paid leave they can take for any reason during a designated 12-month period. Once signed by Governor Pritzker, the PLFAW Act will become effective on January 1, 2024. Note that while employers that are subject to and complying with the Chicago Paid Sick Leave Ordinance and the Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance will be exempt from complying with the PLFAW Act, many Chamber members outside of the city of Chicago will be affected.
Below are a select few questions and answers addressing important provisions under the PLFAW Act. For more information, check out Greensfelder’s full-length summary of important details on the act.
Q: Which Illinois employers will be covered?
A: The PLFAW Act adopts an expansive definition of employer, which includes private sector employers regardless of size (e.g., one or more employees) and the state and units of local governments, or any state or local governmental agency. However, Illinois school districts organized under the Illinois School Code and Illinois park districts organized under the Illinois Park District Code are not included.
The PLFAW Act does not apply to employers who currently are covered by a municipal or county ordinance that is in effect as of January 1, 2024, and which requires the employer to provide any form of paid leave to their employees, including paid sick leave or other paid leave. Thus, employers in Chicago that are subject to the Chicago Paid Sick Leave Ordinance will be exempt. Similarly, employers located in suburban Cook County municipalities that did not opt out of the Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance and are providing paid sick leave in compliance with that ordinance will be exempt from complying with the PLFAW Act. Notably, however, it appears that those employers located in a suburban Cook County municipality that lawfully preempted the Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance and did opt out likely will be subject to the PLFAW Act.
Q: How much paid leave is required under the PLFAW Act?
A: Employees are entitled to earn and use up to a minimum of 40 hours of paid leave, or a pro rata number of hours of paid leave, during a 12-month period the employer designates in writing.
Employers have the option to frontload by providing the entire 40 hours in a lump sum on the first day of employment or the first day of a designated 12-month period. Or, employers can have employees accrue paid leave at the rate of one hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked, up to a minimum of 40 hours of paid leave, or such greater amount if the employer chooses to provide more than 40 hours of paid leave under the PLFAW Act.
Q: What rate of pay will the PLFAW require employers to use to calculate paid leave?
A: Employers will be required to pay employees their standard hourly rate of pay for paid leave provided under the PLFAW Act. Employees who are paid gratuities or commissions as part of their wages must be paid at least the applicable full minimum wage in the jurisdiction in which they are employed when paid leave is taken.
Q: Are there specific reasons employees will be able use paid leave under the PLFAW Act?
A: No, employees will be able use earned paid leave for any reason. Indeed, unlike the Chicago Paid Sick Leave Ordinance and the Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance, which both delineate the specific reasons on which employees can take paid sick leave, the PLFAW Act has no such limitations. Employees will be able use paid leave provided under the PLFAW Act for “any reason of the employee’s choosing.” In fact, under the PLFAW Act, employees will not be required to provide their employers with any reason for the need to use paid leave, and employers cannot require that employees provide documentation or certification as proof or in support of the need for the paid leave.