Illinois becomes the third state to require mandatory paid time off


James Sklar


Earlier this month, Gov. JB Pritzker signed Senate Bill 208, which makes Illinois the third state in the country to require employers to offer paid time off for any reason to their employees.


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“Working families face so many challenges, and it’s been my mission to alleviate those burdens in every way I can. Today, we will become the third state in the nation to require paid time off, and the first among the largest states,” Pritzker said in a statement.

“Employers benefit from allowing employees to tend to the urgent personal matters of their lives. Workers’ productivity increases, and they often gain greater passion for their job when they can manage the stresses they face outside work. I’m exceptionally proud that labor and business came together to recognize the value of this requirement to employees and employers alike.”

Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) reintroduced SB 208 this term to help working families who may encounter unexpected difficulties during their normal daily life.

“It’s not uncommon for life to get in the way of work—be it your child unexpectedly gets sick or your car breaks down. You shouldn’t be punished for these everyday obstacles,” Lightford said. “With the signing of this legislation, we are leading a significant, positive impact on the lives of residents across our state and underscoring our commitment to uplifting working families.”

Starting Jan. 1st, 2024, Illinois employers must provide their employees with up to 40 hours of paid leave during a 12-month period. Employees will start accruing one hour of paid leave for every 40 hours of time worked and can start using the time accrued after working for more than 90 days.

“Paid leave is one of the most significant pieces of legislation we have passed to move our state forward in over a generation. It’s a game changer for so many working families,” Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria) said. 

“Whether it’s to help with a family health emergency, or to take a break for one’s mental health, paid leave is critical to the wellbeing of working people. Even contributors to Forbes recognize this is more than just great social policy, it’s great economic policy that can help to recruit and retain top talent. I am proud to have negotiated paid leave and look forward to seeing it fully implemented and the positive impact it is going to have on individuals across our state.”

Employees may take off for any reason and employees do not need to provide any documentation or certification for proof. Employees need to provide either an oral or written request to their employer and follow the employer’s reasonable paid leave policy. SB 208 also clarifies that the employee is not responsible for finding a replacement worker to cover their leave.

“Needing to take a mental health break, tending to a family emergency, or driving a child to and from a doctor’s appointment shouldn’t be punished with a smaller paycheck, and this legislation is a bold step in ensuring Illinois workers are valued and respected,” Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago) said in a statement. 

SB 208 states clear penalties for employers if they fail to provide an employee with the minimum time off. The employee may file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Labor, and the employer could be fined for damages such as underpayment, compensatory damages, or a civil penalty of $2,500 for each separate offense.

The employee will also be granted equitable relief in the forms of reasonable attorney fees, expert witnesses, and other litigation costs. The attorney general is also authorized to bring a suit under the bill.

SB 208 applies to all employees of the state except those covered under certain collective bargain agreements, independent contractors, and those covered by paid sick leave ordinances in the City of Chicago and Cook County. This new law will impact approximately 1.5 million workers