Is This a Thing Now? Mandatory Universal Paid Time Off.

Kollman & Saucier
Kollman & Saucier

On Monday, March 13, 2023, Illinois’ governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law the Paid Leave for All Workers Act.  With his signature, Illinois joins Nevada and Maine as states that require employers to provide mandatory universal paid time off.  Illinois’ law becomes effective January 1, 2024.

This is an interesting turn of the tide from even 10 years ago where mandatory sick leave was a fringe idea.  The first state to enact a private sector requirement for employers to provide paid sick leave was Connecticut in 2011.  California was next and enacted a similar law in 2014. Even as of today, mandatory sick leave is the minority practice; only 14 states and Washington D.C. have mandatory sick leave laws. 

Now, that three states have enacted mandatory universal paid leave laws it leaves me asking, which state is next?  What sets these states apart from the 14 states and D.C. that have enacted mandatory sick leave is the nature of the paid time off.  Mandatory paid time off can be taken for any reason, whether it be vacation, doctor’s appointments, personal days, sick leave, etc.  It is certainly a groundbreaking movement here in the United States and we will likely see other states following suit in the coming years.

Current State Mandatory Paid Leave Laws:

Nevada’s paid leave law (Nev. Rev. Stat. § 608.0197), which became effective January 1, 2020, only applies to employers with 50 or more employees.  Under that state’s laws, employees are entitled to 0.01923 hours of paid leave for each hour of work performed.  That equals 40 hours per year for a full time employee who works 40 hours per week.  Nevada’s law also permits mandatory carry over of up to 40 hours per year. 

Maine’s law, the Earned Paid Leave law (Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 26, § 637), became effective January 1, 2021.  Maine’s law applies to employers with 10 or more employees, but exempts seasonal workers.  Like, Nevada, employees earn PTO at a rate of 1 hour for every 40 hours of work, up to 40 hours per year.

Illinois’ law, the Paid Leave for All Workers Act, which again will not become effective until January 1, 2024, will provide employees 1 hour of leave for every 40 hours worked.  Unlike Maine and Nevada, however, Illinois does not provide a minimum employee threshold; all employers must provide employees with universal paid leave.  As the Illinois law is still very new, it is unclear what type of carry over provisions will apply, but employers should expect at least a 40 hour carry over threshold until the ambiguity of the law gets clarified through regulations.

Employer Compliance

In each of the three states who have enacted such laws, employers are not required to create a new leave policy if they have an existing paid time off policy that is equal to or better than the state law requirements.  Additionally, employers are allowed to “front load” time, providing it to employees at the beginning of each year, rather than setting accruals.

Next Steps

Time will tell if more states begin following Nevada, Maine and Illinois’ lead by enacting their own universal paid time off laws.  Presently, it does seem with the expansion of laws in many states protecting employees’ abilities to take time off for common personal life events, that more states will join the club and require employers to provide employees a paid time off program.

If you have questions on how any state specific law applies to your workforce, including those employees who may work remotely in a different state, please do not hesitate to contact one of the attorneys at Kollman & Saucier, P.A.

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