Illinois Leave Laws


Paid Leave for All Workers Act (PLAWA)

Beginning on January 1, 2024, most employers in Illinois became subject to the Paid Leave for All Workers Act (PLAWA) which requires employers to provide paid leave to their employees including employees who are full-time, part-time, temporary, and seasonal. IL Statute 820 ILCS 192, IL Department of Labor – PLAWA

For what purposes can employees take paid leave?

Employees may take the leave for any purpose, and employers are not permitted to require the employees to provide their reason or look for a co-worker to cover their shift or work.

How many hours of paid leave do employees receive each year?

Employers may cap employees’ paid leave to 40 hours each year. They may also provide employees paid leave in one of two ways:

  • Accrual: providing 1 hours of paid leave for every 40 hours worked that can be carried over from year to year
  • Frontloading: providing all paid leave at the start of a 12-month period that does not need to be carried over from year to year

How many hours of paid leave can employees take each year?

Employer must allow employees to take up to 40 hours of accrued paid leave each year. Additionally, employer can require employees to take no more than two (2) hours of leave at a time.

Do employees have to give notice before they take paid leave?

In leave is foreseeable, employers may require employees to provide no more than seven (7) days’ prior notice of their intent to take paid leave. If the leave is unforeseeable, employers may required employee to provide notice as soon as practical. Also, an employee’s intent to take leave may be made either verbally or in writing.

Can an employer refuse to grant an employee’s paid leave request?

Typically, employers are not permitted to deny an employee’s request of paid leave. Moreover, an employer cannot retaliate against an employee for requesting to take leave or taking leave. The only time when an employer may deny a paid leave request if the denial is due to operational necessity.

Must employer pay employees for accrued but unused paid leave on separate from employment?

Although not specifically required under the PLAWA, employers may be required to pay employees for unused paid leave when their employment ends under Illinois wage payment laws. 820 ILCS 115/5; 56 Ill. Adm. Code 300.520. This requirement applies to employees regardless of the reason for their separation including voluntary resignations, layoffs, and involuntary terminations.


Vacation Leave

In Illinois, beyond the paid leave requirements of the PLAWA, an employer is not required to provide its employees with vacation benefits, either paid or unpaid. An employer is required to pay these benefits only if it has established a policy, promised, or contracted to provide them. See 820 ILCS 115/2.

An employer must pay an employee for all accrued or earned vacation upon separation from employment. An employer cannot maintain a policy or employment contract requiring the forfeiture by an employee of accrued vacation upon separation from employment for any reason. 820 ILCS 115/5; 56 Ill. Adm. Code 300.520. The only exception to this rule is if the employer is party to a collective bargaining agreement with a union that provides otherwise. 820 ILCS 115/5.

An employer can implement a vacation policy where employees must use vacation time by a certain date or lose it (a “use-it-or-lose-it” policy), but must permit employees a reasonable opportunity to use the leave. 56 Ill. Adm. Code 300.520(e).


Sick Leave

Beyond the paid leave requirements of the PLAWA, Illinois law does not require employers to provide employees with sick leave benefits, either paid or unpaid. If employers provide employees with sick leave, with some restrictions, it must allow employees to use the sick leave due to an illness, injury, or medical appointment of a family member including:

  • child
  • stepchild
  • spouse
  • domestic partner
  • sibling
  • parent
  • mother-in-law
  • father-in-law
  • grandchild
  • grandparent
  • stepparent

820 ILCS 191; IL Dept. of Labor – Employee Sick Leave Act FAQ

An employer in Illinois may be required to provide an employee unpaid sick leave in accordance with the Family and Medical Leave Act or other federal laws.


Holiday Leave

Illinois law does not require private employers to provide employees with either paid or unpaid holiday leave. IL Dept. of Labor Holiday FAQs. In Illinois, a private employer can require an employee to work holidays. A private employer does not have to pay an employee premium pay, such as 1½ times the regular rate, for working on holidays, unless such time worked qualifies the employee for overtime under standard overtime laws. If an employer chooses to provide either paid or unpaid holiday leave, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract.

State holidays

Visit our Illinois State Holidays page for a list of holidays recognized and observed by the state of Illinois as well as information regarding state laws governing holiday leave for public employers and employees.


Jury Duty Leave

An employer is not required to pay an employee for responding to a jury summons or serving on a jury.

An employer must grant an employee time off to serve on a jury, regardless of the employment shift to which the employee is assigned. An employer may not require an employee to work a night shift while the employee is serving jury duty during the day.

An employer may not discharge, threaten to discharge, penalize, intimidate or coerce any employee who receives and/or responds to a jury summons or who serves on a jury. Illinois Stat. 705 ILCS 305/4.1


Voting Leave

Illinois law requires employers to allow employee to take paid voting leave for up to two (2) hours if the employee’s working hours begin less than two (2) hours after the opening of the polls and end less than two (2) hours before the closing of the polls. Employers may specify the hours from which the employees may be absent to vote but cannot penalize employees for lawfully choosing to take voting leave.

Employers may deny an employee the right to take leave to vote if the employee did not apply for the leave prior to the day of the election.

Illinois Stat. 10 ILCS 5/17-15


Bereavement Leave

Employers with fewer than 50 employees are not required to provide bereavement leave benefits to its employees.

Illinois law requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide employees with unpaid bereavement leave under the Family Bereavement Leave Act. Illinois Stat. 820 ILCS 154

Illinois’s Family Bereavement Leave Act requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide eligible employees with ten (10) work days of unpaid leave to:

  • attend the funeral or alternative memorial of a covered family member;
  • make arrangements related to the death of the covered family member;
  • grieve the covered family member’s death; or
  • be absent from work due to a pregnancy loss including:
    • a miscarriage;
    • an unsuccessful round of intrauterine insemination or of an assisted reproductive technology procedure;
    • a failed adoption match or an adoption that is not finalized because it is contested by another party;
    • a failed surrogacy agreement;
    • a diagnosis that negatively impacts pregnancy or fertility; or
    • a stillbirth.

A covered family member includes a:

  • child
  • stepchild
  • spouse
  • domestic partner
  • sibling
  • parent
  • mother-in-law
  • father-in-law
  • grandchild
  • grandparent
  • stepparent

When bereavement leave, an employee must:

  • complete the leave with 60 days after becoming aware of the death of the covered family member
  • provide at least 48 hours’ advance notice of their intention to take bereavement leave, unless providing such notice is not reasonable and practicable

The employer may require the employee to provide documentation supporting the employee’s use of bereavement leave. Documentation may include, but is not limited to, a death certificate, obituary, written verification of death, burial, or memorial services from a mortuary, funeral home, burial society, crematorium, religious institution, or government agency.

If an employer provides an employee paid leave benefits, such as vacation leave, sick leave, or paid time off, the employer must permit the employee to use that leave for bereavement purposes.

If an employee has the death of more than one covered family member within a 12 month period, the employer must permit the employee to take up to a total of six (6) weeks of unpaid bereavement leave. In this situation, bereavement leave cannot be used to extend the unpaid leave amount otherwise allowed under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.

An employer may not discriminate and retaliate against an employee who seeks to take leave or takes leave under the Family Bereavement Leave Act.

Illinois Stat. 820 ILCS 154; IL Department of Labor: Family Bereavement Leave Act


Illinois Military Family Leave

All employers in Illinois with a minimum of 15 workers must give eligible employees leave to spend time with a child or spouse while that person’s deployment orders are in effect. The amount of leave an employee gets depends on how many employees the employer has. Small employers have to give 15 days of unpaid leave, and employers with a minimum of 50 employees must allow for up to 30 days of unpaid leave.


Illinois Domestic Violence Leave

An employer must give leave to eligible employees who have been a victim of or have a family member who is a victim of sexual violence or domestic abuse. An employee may take leave to obtain services from an aid organization, get counseling, seek medical treatment, seek legal assistance, engage in planning for future safety, relocate or otherwise take a variety of steps to increase the safety of the victims.

The amount of leave time is determined by the business’ size.

  • 1-14 employees: 4 weeks of unpaid leave per year
  • 15-49 employees: 8 weeks of unpaid leave per year
  • 50 employees or more: 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year

The Illinois Small Necessities Law

Any employer in Illinois with a minimum of 50 employees must grant eligible workers up to 8 hours of unpaid leave during any school year.

However, they are not allowed to take more than four hours off in one day. This is to attend classroom activities related to their children and attend school conferences, particularly those activities that cannot occur outside regular work hours.


Federal Family and Medical Leave Act

All employees in Illinois are eligible under Family and Medical Leave (FMLA), a federal program that grants employees up to 12 weeks of leave per year.

Employees are eligible if they have worked for a company for at least a year, for at least 1,250 hours during the previous year, and at a business with at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.

This leave may be taken to:

  • Bond with a new child
  • Care for a family member with a serious health condition
  • Recuperate from one’s own serious health condition
  • Handle qualifying circumstances arising out of the family member’s military service
  • Care for a family member who has suffered a serious injury during active military service.

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