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State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria. 

(The Center Square) – A bill headed to the governor's desk that gives paid leave to all Illinois workers is being criticized for hurting small businesses around the state. 

The “Paid Leave for All Workers Act” guarantees up to 40 hours of paid leave per year for all employees. Under terms of the legislation, full- and part-time workers can earn up to one week’s worth of paid time off per year.  

During debate on the House floor, State Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer, R-Jacksonville, said the state spends millions to lure big businesses to Illinois, but constantly places mandates on small businesses.

“My major concern are the little guys,” Davidsmeyer said. “It's the mom-and-pops that have 5, 10, maybe 13 employees. This has a significant impact on their budgets.”

Under terms of the bill, leave can be used for any reason. Employers can still require employees to give notice before taking time off. 

Deputy Majority Leader Jehan Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria, sponsored the bill in the House of the 102nd General Assembly. She said many labor groups are on board with the measure, including the Illinois Retail Merchants Association and the Illinois Manufacturers' Association. 

“Small businesses are the backbones of all of our communities regardless of where we live at, but those employees are the backbones of those small businesses,” Gordon-Booth said. 

State Rep. Deanne Mazzochi, R-Elmhurst, agreed that the legislation will be detrimental to the bottom line for small businesses.

“What it's going to mean is that more businesses close, more businesses can’t survive, and the very people you are trying to protect won't have jobs at all,” Mazzochi said. 

The governor is expected to sign the bill into law, which would make Illinois the 15th state to have laws regarding mandatory paid leave. 

“Working families face enough challenges without the concern of losing a day’s pay when life gets in the way,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said is a statement. 

Staff Reporter

Kevin Bessler reports on statewide issues in Illinois for the Center Square. He has over 30 years of experience in radio news reporting throughout the Midwest.