In 2007, San Francisco passed the first ever mandatory sick leave law in the nation, which became effective in 2008. Under this law, all workers in the city were required to begin accruing paid sick leave at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked, after they had been employed for 90 days.

Sick leave legislation has since been adopted by as many as 20 major cities, six states and the District of Columbia.

Illinois also has standards surrounding sick leave that have been amended this year. Here’s what you need to know.

The Illinois Employee Sick Leave Act

Original amendment:

The original amendment requires employers to allow employees to use their employer-provided personal sick leave benefits for absences due to:

  • An illness.
  • Injury.
  • Medical appointment of the employee's child, spouse, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent or stepparent.

They must be allowed to use these benefits for reasonable periods of time and on the same terms that an employee may use the time for his/her own illness/injury.

Subsequent amendments:

The list of relatives for whom employees can use their sick time has been expanded to now include stepchildren and domestic partners.

Employers may request written verification of the employee's absence from a health care professional if such verification is required under the employer's employment benefit plan or paid time off policy.

Note: Covered employers in Chicago or suburban Cook County should be sure to check with local ordinances as well.


The Act has broadened its definition of the term “personal sick leave benefits.” It now includes “any paid or unpaid time available to an employee as provided through an employment benefit plan or paid time off policy to be used as a result of absence from work due to personal illness, injury, or medical appointment.”

So, if unpaid time is allowed under a paid time off policy (ex., a policy that allows employees who use their paid sick time to take unpaid time off), such time must also be allowed for family members.

The confusing part: Is the policy is strictly an unpaid leave policy, like an unpaid medical leave policy? You could argue that such a policy is not subject to the law because it is not a paid time off policy. On the other hand, one could also argue that an unpaid medical leave policy is an “employee benefit plan” (which is not defined in the act).

To learn more about the Illinois Sick Leave Act from the DOL, click here.

Disclaimer: Please note that this is not all inclusive. Our guidance is designed only to give general information on the issues actually covered. It is not intended to be a comprehensive summary of all laws which may be applicable to your situation, treat exhaustively the subjects covered, provide legal advice, or render a legal opinion. Consult your own legal advisor regarding specific application of the information to your own plan.

PrimePay Can Help:

PrimePay’s Time Clock solution allows employers to track and report both paid and unpaid time to maintain compliance with the new law.

To learn more about Time Clock, click here or fill out the form below.