Pritzker signs bill guaranteeing five days paid leave to Illinois workers
SPRINGFIELD — Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday signed into law a bill 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.
Employers are free to offer more than 40 hours.
“Today we will become the third state in the nation to require paid time off and the first among the largest states,” Pritzker said at a bill-signing ceremony in Chicago. “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 this year during the 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 sponsored the bill in the Senate.
Lightford, who is the Senate’s majority leader, acknowledged former state Sen. Toi Hutchinson, who served from 2009 until 2019 and was an original sponsor 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 Senate Bill 208 was debated in January, a 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 five, 10, maybe 13 employees, that this has a significant impact on their budgets,” state Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer, R- Jacksonville, said during the debate.
Pritzker pushed back against that sentiment at the 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.
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.
The measure received a few Republican votes in the House but passed the Senate with only Democratic support.
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After years of operating in an unused, deteriorating church, the Pilsen Food Pantry has finally found a permanent home, with plans to offer more than just food.
The pantry has operated out of the former Holy Trinity Croatian church at 19th and Throop streets since 2020. They became the biggest pantry in the area, handling up to 20,000 pounds of food per day.
But they don’t own that building, so it made little sense to spend money on major renovations. That made it difficult to expand programs, improve food storage or make the space more accessible to people with disabilities. That’s all going to change.
The Figueroa Family Foundation, which runs the pantry, recently announced it has purchased a two-story, 56,000-square-foot building near 21st Place and Ashland Avenue for about $500,000. The building used to house a YMCA, said Dr. Evelyn Figueroa, pantry director.
Though the new space is smaller, owning it means being able to make whatever changes they want, Figueroa said. Now, the pantry is raising money to make improvements to the new space and expects to be able to move into their new home by summer.
“We can do a lot more renovation projects and not have to worry about investing money in something we would have to walk away from at some point,” said Steve Wiley, the pantry manager.
The new space has other advantages, including free street parking and proximity to the CTA — the Pink Line is about five blocks away, and the Cermak Road bus, a block to the south, runs into Chinatown, where many pantry clients come from.
Figueroa said staff will miss some things about the old site, which had a garden and murals.
“It’s very sad to lose all that, but you have to think about what are the most important things and the long game,” Figueroa said.
In addition to continuing the pantry’s food operations, Figueroa said they will also bring along the pantry’s library, medical supply closet and clothing closet.
They plan to build out the new space with a rooftop garden, a space to process LowIncome Home Energy Assistance Program applications, stage home renovations and a kitchen for cooking classes similar to those offered before on Throop.
Wiley also anticipates the group adding some walk-in freezers to properly store food. And he’s open to other improvements, such as improved insulation and access to bathrooms — anything, he said, “that would make it a better place for the clients or staff.”