This post will guide you through employee leave laws for businesses and workers located in the state of Illinois.
Follow this guide to understand employers’ obligations for vacation time, paid time off (PTO), sick leave, parental leave, bereavement and more, along with state holidays observed in Illinois.
This page is intended for reference purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please see official government sources or consult a legal professional for actual legal advice.
As of the 1st of January 2024, Illinois will become just the third US state to make paid time off a legal requirement with the introduction of the Paid Leave for All Workers Act.
The law entitles employees to at least 40 hours of paid leave in a 12 month period, accrued at a rate of 1 hour of leave per 40 hours worked.
Employees can start using their new benefits from March 31st, or 90 days following start of employment, and the law states; “Paid leave under this Act may be taken by an employee for any reason of the employee’s choosing. An employee is not required to provide an employer a reason for the leave and may not be required to provide documentation or certification as proof or in support of the leave.”
Under the Paid Leave for All Workers Act, employers can enforce a Use It or Lose It policy if they provide the minimum required amount of paid leave (40 hours) on the first day of employment or the first day of the 12 month period.
If the company chooses to have leave accrue over time instead, leave will carry over annually, ensuring employees always receive a minimum of 40 hours PTO in a 12 month period.
Use It or Lose It leave policies mean that any leave not used at the end of the year is forfeited, and not carried over to the following year. Learn more about Use It or Lose It policies here.
The Paid Leave for All Workers Act specifically states that employers do not have to pay out unused leave upon an employee’s termination, resignation, retirement, or other separation from employment.
Illinois state law does not require employers to provide paid or unpaid sick leave to employees. However, if an employer does provide sick leave, the Employee Sick Leave Act entitles workers the right to use their sick time for “absences due to an illness, injury, or medical appointment of the employee’s child, spouse, [domestic partner], sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent, or stepparent, for reasonable periods of time as the employee’s attendance may be necessary, on the same terms upon which the employee is able to use sick leave benefits for the employee’s own illness or injury.”
Employers in Chicago are covered by the Chicago Paid Sick Leave Ordinance, which allows employees one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked.
Cook County also has an Earned Sick Leave Ordinance, entitling employees to one hour of sick leave for each week worked.
Besides any state laws or provisions written into employment contracts, employers in Illinois must comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which entitles eligible employees the right to take 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for serious health conditions, or to care for spouses, children or parents with a serious health condition.
The following state holidays are observed in Illinois:
|January 1||New Year’s Day|
|3rd Monday in January||Martin Luther King, Jr Day|
|February 12||Lincoln’s Birthday|
|3rd Monday in February||Presidents’ Day|
|Last Monday in May||Memorial Day|
|July 4||Independence Day|
|1st Monday in September||Labor Day|
|2nd Monday in October||Columbus Day|
|November 11||Veterans Day|
|4th Thursday in November||Thanksgiving|
|Day after Thanksgiving||Thanksgiving Friday|
|December 25||Christmas Day|
There is no requirement to provide employees with a day off for state holidays, paid or unpaid. Additionally, any employees required to work on a state holiday are not automatically entitled to benefits such as an increased rate of pay or a compensatory day off.
There is no law covering maternity leave in Illinois. However, the FMLA applies to workers across the nation, providing 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for the birth of a new child, along with a new adoption or foster.
Paternity leave is not covered by law in Illinois, but fathers are covered by the FMLA as well, receiving the same right to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for the birth, adoption or foster of their new child.
Illinois state law entitles employees to unpaid bereavement leave of up to two weeks (10 workdays) for the following cases:
“The death of a covered family member, stillbirth, miscarriage, unsuccessful reproductive procedure, failed adoption match or unfinalized adoption agreement, failed surrogacy agreement, or diagnosis that negatively impacts pregnancy or fertility.”
Covered family members include a child, stepchild, spouse, domestic partner, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent, or stepparent.
Employees can take up to six weeks of bereavement leave if there is the death of more than one covered family member in a 12-month period.
The law applies to companies with 50 or more employees.
Employers in Illinois must grant time off for employees to respond to a jury summons or attend jury duty. However, this time off is not required to be paid.
Illinois law gives employees the right to up to two hours of paid voting leave if the employee’s shift begins less than two hours after polls open and ends less than two hours before polls close.
The Illinois Service Member Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (ISERRA) allows service members the right to take an unpaid leave of absence for national or state active duty.
Federal Law (the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)) applies in Illinois, which states that military service members receive up to five years of unpaid leave for military service, and upon returning, must be reinstated to the same position (or an equivalent position) as they had before their leave.
Anything not covered in Illinois state leave laws is up to the discretion of the employer, such as whether or not to provide paid sick leave or PTO, or whether PTO rolls over from year to year.
However, if any benefits are laid out in an employee’s contract or company policy, employers must comply with what has been agreed in that document.
For example, if an employee’s contract states that they are to receive 12 days of PTO each year, the employer is legally required to provide this, even though paid time off is not required by state law.