Illinois poised to require paid vacation for nearly all workers


CHICAGO (AP) — When Joan Van is sick, she doesn’t get paid.

An East St. Louis-area restaurant waitstaff and single mother of three, she said she works double to make ends meet when she or one of her children gets sick. .

“I’m so tired and exhausted that I can’t let my kids watch you fall apart. You have to. If you don’t, who will?” .

She may not need to be so long. A sweeping paid vacation law requiring employers in Illinois to give workers time off based on hours worked and use it for any reason is set to be signed into law by Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Paid time off requests are rare in the United States. Only Maine and Nevada have similar laws, although it is common in other developed countries.

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14 states plus Washington DC, Request your employer to provide you with paid sick leave Similar laws allow employees to use it only for health-related matters. What makes Illinois’ new law stand out is that workers are not required to give a reason for their absence as long as they follow reasonable employer standards in giving notice.

Maine and Nevada also allow workers to decide how they spend their time, but with substantial exemptions. Maine’s paid leave law applies only to employers with more than 10 employees of hers, while Nevada exempts businesses with less than 50 of hers. Illinois applies to almost all employees and has no restrictions based on business size.

Seasonal workers such as lifeguards are exempt, as are federal employees and college students with temporary, non-full-time jobs at universities.

This law will enter into force on January 1, 2024. An employee is entitled to one hour of paid time off for every 40 hours of her time worked up to a total of 40 hours, although employers may offer more. Employees can start using their hours after they have worked 90 days.

“Working families face enough challenges without worrying about losing a day’s pay when their lives get in the way,” Pritzker said on Jan. 11, when the bill passed both houses. Told.

ordinance of Cook County and Chicago It already requires employers to provide paid sick leave, and workers in those locations will continue to be covered by existing legislation rather than new legislation.

Jonay Strong, an office worker at a small media company in Chicago, said paid sick leave helps her care for her two children, ages 10 and 6. But for some reason it’s helpful to extend the time you use.

“Life happens,” she said, adding that she hopes Chicago will update its laws to be more flexible, like state bills.

The Chicago and Cook County ordinances acted as a pilot program for statewide legislation, softening critics who predicted a large-scale business closure would not materialize, Sarah Labadee said. He has been on paid leave since 2008 and has helped push the bill forward.

“Obviously, strange things happened during the pandemic, but not before the pandemic. Chicago was a thriving economic engine,” she said.

Peoria Democratic Representative Jehan Gordon Booth sponsored the bill, which she said would “help cheer up working families” and “help people immediately.”

Newly elected House Republican Leader Tony McCombie said the mandated benefits could have a “detrimental effect” on small businesses and nonprofits “in an already unfriendly business environment.” said that there is

“We all want a great work environment with a good work-life balance,” she said in an email. could not deal with.”

For Leslie Alison Seeh, who runs a promotions and sweepstakes management company with her husband in DuPage County, caring for three full-time employees is a priority, but it’s not at odds with the company’s paid vacation policy. is “difficult”.

“I am thrilled that this is going to be passed and signed. No,” Alison Seay said. so that they can survive. ”

The National Federation of Independent Business, a small business advocacy group, opposed the bill, saying it would “impose a uniform obligation on all employers.”

Small business owners face rapid inflation, rising fuel and energy costs and a shortage of qualified workers, and the requirement will be an “additional burden,” said the NFIB state director. One Chris Davis said in a statement after the bill passed. “The message from Illinois legislators is clear: ‘Your small business isn’t essential.'”

However, the potential burden for small businesses clashes with the needs of employees, especially those with children.

Van, a parent leader in community organizing and family affairs, said he doesn’t get paid time off until he’s worked for a year. It’s always stressful for her mother in Belleville to know she’ll lose her paycheck when she or one of her children gets sick.

Molly Weston Williamson, an expert on paid leave policy and a senior fellow at the think tank Center for American Progress, called the Illinois law “a big step in the right direction.”

In addition to establishing the right of workers to take paid leave, the bill prohibits employers from retaliation against employees for using paid leave. This is key to making sure that “low-income workers and other vulnerable people can actually make time.”

Paid time off is both a worker’s rights issue and a public health issue, Williamson said. Services like Van, which handles food and beverages without paid leave, makes workers more likely to go to work unwell. send kids to sick daycare“At that point, they make everyone else sick,” she said.

“Especially now, more than three years after the pandemic, I think we all have a more instinctive understanding of how health is all connected,” Williamson said.

Savage is a Corps member of the Associated Press/Reports for America Statehouse News Initiative. Reporting to America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to cover hidden issues.

Copyright 2023 Associated Press. all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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