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Pritzker signs measure guaranteeing five days paid leave for Illinoisans

Pritzker signs a bill
Capitol News Illinois
Andrew Adams
Gov. JB Pritzker signs Senate Bill 208 into law at a Chicago news conference Monday, guaranteeing workers up to 40 hours of paid time off every year.

Gov. JB Pritzker signed Senate Bill 208 into law Monday, ensuring at least 40 hours of paid leave for Illinois workers.

Effective Jan. 1, 2024, workers will begin to earn paid leave on their first day at a rate of one hour of leave for every 40 hours worked, up to 40 hours of paid leave for the year. Employees can begin using their paid leave either 90 days after their employment begins or 90 days after the act’s effective date.

“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 Monday news conference. “I’m exceptionally proud that labor and business came together to recognize the value of this requirement to employees and employers alike.”

The measure passed in both chambers earlier this year during the 102nd General Assembly’s lame duck session.

Prior to the act’s effective date, Illinois workers have not been guaranteed paid time off for sick leave, child care, medical appointments or any other reason.

“About 4 million workers…in Illinois do not have access to even a single sick day,” said state Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Westchester, who carried the bill in the Senate.

The measure has been under negotiation since 2019 and has “changed hands” a number of times since its inception, Lightford said.

Lightford, who is the Senate’s majority leader, acknowledged former state Sen. Toi Hutchinson, who served from 2009 until 2019 and was an original carrier of the bill.

“This is an issue that has been lingering around the General Assembly for far too long,” Lightford said. “I’m really glad it landed in my lap when it came over to the Senate.”

When SB 208 was debated on the floor in January, one key point of opposition was that it would burden small businesses by raising costs.

“My major concern are the little guys. It’s the mom-and-pops that have 5, 10, maybe 13 employees, that this has a significant impact on their budgets,” Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer, R-Jacksonville, said on the House floor.

Pritzker pushed back against this sentiment at the bill signing ceremony.

“Just like bigger businesses, small businesses want their workers to be more productive, to be able to deal with their stresses, emergencies at home, so they can be better and more productive at work,” Pritzker said. “I want to encourage anybody who’s concerned about that to look at, and remind the workers who work for them, how important it is that we have a law like that that protects workers in the state of Illinois.”

The measure does not apply to employees subject to collectively bargained contracts, because time off would be subject to negotiations between the union and the employer.

Ultimately, the measure received a few Republican votes in the House but passed the Senate with only Democratic support.

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide, as well as hundreds of radio and TV stations. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

Nika Schoonover is a reporter at Capitol News Illinois, based in Springfield.