Guaranteed paid leave for Illinois employees

Illinois employers take note: Illinois recently joined two other trailblazing states (Maine and Nevada) in requiring employers to provide a minimum amount of paid leave for employees. Thanks to the new Paid Leave for All Workers Act (the “Act”), effective on January 1, 2024, employees working in Illinois (but not Cook County) will earn and accrue up to 40 hours of paid leave each 12-month period. Employees working in Chicago are already, and will remain, subject to the Chicago Paid Sick Leave Act, and those in Cook County have the Earned Sick Leave Ordinance.


  • Under the Act, employees accrue one hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked, up to at least 40 hours of paid leave (or more, if the employer allows it) for each 12-month period.
  • Employees may start using paid leave on the date that is the later of (1) March 31, 2024, or (2) 90 days following the start of their employment.
  • Employees can front-load accrued paid leave starting on the first day they are permitted to use such leave. The employee can use paid leave accrued under the Act before using other legally required leave or employer-provided leave.
  • The employee does not have to provide any reason for taking paid leave.
  • The employee is not required to find a replacement worker for the employer during the paid leave.


The employer can implement a use-it-or-lose-it policy – in other words, it is not required to allow any accrued, unused paid leave to carry over to the next 12-month period. Further, the employer is not required to compensate the employee for any accrued, unused paid leave upon separation of employment.


You may be wondering: how would an employer track and verify whether an exempt employee – i.e., an employee exempt from the overtime requirements the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) – has worked 40 hours? The Act says that exempt employees shall be deemed to work 40 hours in each work week for purposes of paid leave accrual, unless they actually worked less than 40 hours (in which case paid leave accrued based on actual hours worked).

Okay, but the question remains: how would an employer know how much an exempt employer has actually worked in a week? Employers are obligated under the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act to maintain daily time records for all employees, no matter if an employee is exempt under the FLSA.

Wait, what?! YIKES!

In conclusion

It is hard for founders – who have a lot more pressing matters to address – to follow and comply with all these regulations. We understand, and we sympathize. Please contact goodcounsel if you need help with the topics we addressed above.

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