SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) — Illinois has become the first state in the Midwest to guarantee paid leave. All employers statewide will be required to provide employees with up to 40 hours, or five days, of paid vacation each year. Governor J. B. Pritzker signed The Paid Leave Act for All Workers into law on Monday afternoon.
“Too many people can’t afford to miss even a day’s pay,” Pritzker said. “But then crises arise – sometimes seemingly small, sometimes catastrophic.”
Pritzker said people shouldn’t have to live in fear of losing their income or job if they have to miss work because their child is sick or a loved one needs help. The legislation guarantees holidays for full-time and part-time employees from January 1.
Employees will receive one hour of paid vacation for every 40 hours worked. However, managers could get more PTO from them.
“If we have the ability to pass legislation like this that affects literally 4 million Illinoisans, it’s because of the work we can do together,” said House Speaker Interim Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria).
People can use the paid vacation they accrue after working 90 days. The law also states that any unused paid leave must be carried over at the end of each year, but employers are not required to pay the balance for people who leave their workplace.
Lt. Gov. Julianne Stratton said the legislation will help Illinois continue to stand up for working families.
“There are too many Illinoisans who are caught between a rock and a hard place in life,” Stratton said. “And life happens to all of us, to many who feel they have to choose between work and loved ones. And frankly, it’s the wrong choice.”
Any business that fails to comply with the law can be fined $2,500 for each violation. The money from the fines will go into a new state fund for paid vacations for all workers.
Business and labor leaders said it was the right move for Illinois. Tim Drea, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO, said the law gives employees paid time off if work interferes with their lives.
“We’ve had collective bargaining agreements over the years that recognize that,” Drea explained. “But not all employers did. The CEOs, they get it. You know, middle management gets it. Union members get it. This bill gives it to every worker in the state.”
However, the new law will not apply to independent contractors or workers covered by a collective bargaining agreement in the construction and parcel delivery industries.
On Jan. 1, Illinois will join Nevada and Maine as the only states to require employers to provide paid leave for any reason.
“Employers benefit from employees being able to attend to the immediate personal matters of their lives,” Pritzker said. “Workers’ productivity increases and they often feel more passionate about their work when they can more easily manage the stress they face outside of work.”
Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood) said the issue has lingered too long in the General Assembly. Lightford said this is a victory for several million workers who still fear receiving unpaid sick leave. She noted that blacks and Hispanics are overrepresented among low-wage workers relative to their share of the total workforce.
“Too many low-wage workers go to work sick because they can’t afford to take unpaid leave, and then everyone else gets sick and they’re afraid they’ll lose their jobs if they do. It’s just inhumane,” Lightford said.
By law, employees must be paid full wages while on the job, and tipped employees will receive their municipality’s minimum wage. The Pritzker administration said employers would not be able to require an employee to find a replacement for them during their absence.
“Everyone feels the need to take a break from work from time to time,” said Illinois Department of Labor Director Jane Flanagan. “Now, under the Paid Leave for All Workers Act, employees will be able to find time to meet life’s basic needs without risking losing their wages or losing their jobs.”
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