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| 2 minutes read

3 Tips for Illinois Employers Revising Their Paid Time Off Policies to Comply with New Leave Laws

Jan. 1, 2024 was the effective date for the Illinois Paid Leave for All Workers Act, which allows employees to earn up to five days of paid leave that they can use for any reason of their choosing. On July 1, 2024, Chicago's amended paid leave ordinance, which allows employees to earn up to five days of paid sick leave and five days of paid time off, goes into effect. As these leave laws go into effect, some employers are revising their policies to comply with these laws and are incredibly worried about how they will affect their businesses. However, most employers have found that their policies only need minor modifications, not complete overhauls. If you are still in the process of reevaluating your paid time off policies, here are a few tips to consider: 

  1. Take a Deep Breath! You Likely Are Already Largely in Compliance. The first thing to remember about the new Illinois and Chicago laws is that you are likely already substantially in compliance and probably do not need to make dramatic changes to your leave policies. These laws were targeted largely at employers that do not provide any paid leave at all. If you already have vacation, paid sick leave, or combined paid time off, you likely will not need to provide more leave than you are already providing. Your existing leave policy is likely to be either sufficient or in need of only minor modifications.
  2. Make Sure You Know Which Law Applies to Your Employees. While Illinois' law is statewide, it has a carve-out for cities and counties that have their own paid leave laws. Since Chicago has its own law, Chicago employees will be covered only by the Chicago law, not the Illinois law. Knowing which law covers an employee can be tricky if you are outside Chicago but have remote employees who work at least part of the time in Chicago. Employees who work 80 hours in the Chicago city limits in any 120-day period are covered by Chicago's law.
  3. You Cannot Ask Detailed Questions About Employees' Leave. While the amount of leave you need to offer employees likely won't change, the nature of how you provide it may. Under the Illinois law, employees can take leave for any reason of their choosing. Employers may not ask employees why they are taking leave and may not request a doctor's note. Chicago's law differentiates sick leave from paid time off, so you can ask employees which type of leave they wish to use. However, you cannot request a doctor's note unless an employee uses sick leave for more than three days in a row, and you cannot ask for detailed reasons for an employee's leave request.

While these new leave laws may appear overwhelming at first, once you learn about their details, you probably will not lose any sleep over the changes you need to make to comply with them. If you are still in the process of refining your leave policies, you should consider contacting your employment attorney. 


labor and employment