Paid leave law benefits Illinois workers

The Illinois State Capitol on Feb. 10.

Rich Hein/Sun-Times

As much as we may want to keep them separate, “work” and “life” are often intertwined in inextricable ways. Whether it’s needing to care for a family member, responding to an emergency, or finding time for a crucial appointment, we all inevitably face interruptions in our life with the potential to keep us from work. As a mom, I’ve been in countless situations like these throughout my career. Most of us have.

In our state, millions of Iower-paid Illinoisans were granted zero days of guaranteed paid leave from their employers. When life interrupted work, these workers were presented with a choice: delay taking the necessary time to care for personal and familial needs or take the time off without pay, potentially jeopardizing their employment and family stability. This harsh and unjust predicament needed to change.

Now, with the recent passage of the Paid Leave for All Workers Act, Illinoisans will no longer have to make that choice. This bill — which I was proud to champion alongside state Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood, workers’ rights advocates and labor leaders — requires all employers to provide a minimum of 40 hours, or five days, of paid leave per year to be used for any reason. It also allows for unused paid leave to carry over annually, up to 40 hours. 

Opinion bug


The importance of guaranteed paid leave cannot be overstated. A few days without pay can devastate those who live with strict budgets and cannot afford to miss a shift or not show up for a day of work. For some, even a single day without pay could be the difference in making rent that month or putting food on the table for their families. Without paid leave, workers are punished for circumstances often beyond their control. 

Workers deserve the agency and opportunity to take a day off work without fear of losing valuable pay. This law is that safety net.

Opinion Newsletter

In 2019, researchers with the Brookings Institution suggested that guaranteed paid leave is not just a social issue, but an economic issue as well. The researchers point out that women with access to paid leave are 40% more likely to return to work after giving birth than women without any paid leave. Ultimately, the report suggests that having more flexible time off policies may strengthen workers’ output overall. Policies like this one could play an instrumental role in eliminating barriers to labor participation for those who would otherwise temporarily leave the work force. 

Illinois should not be a state where workers are forced to choose between needing time off and maintaining employment. Guaranteed paid leave returns agency to members of the work force who have long been denied this right. This legislation is the culmination of years of fierce advocacy work and represents a new chapter in our state’s history, one that emphasizes the importance of creating fair and equitable conditions for all workers. 

Jehan Gordon-Booth is the speaker pro tempore and chief budgeteer for House Democrats. She represents the 92nd District in the Illinois House of Representatives.

The Sun-Times welcomes letters to the editor and op-eds. See our guidelines.

The views and opinions expressed by contributors are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Chicago Sun-Times or any of its affiliates.

Feeds,News,Chi ST 2

via Chicago Sun-Times – All

March 7, 2023 at 07:58PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s