Blurb about why Forefront rocks, caption for photo

The 102nd General Assembly adjourned on 1.11.23 after a consequential two years, with over 200 laws going into effect on 1.1.23 in addition to a flurry of activity during January’s lame duck session. Here are some highlights of issues affecting nonprofit employers and stakeholders across the state.

New Laws in 2023

coalition backed this significant bill. Illinois is only the third state in the country to pass similar legislation. Effective January 1, 2024; the requirements include those hired before 1/1/24, but the paid leave benefit begins 1/1/24 for previous hires.

Employer Requirements 

  • Requires all employers, including nonprofit employers, to provide their employees with a minimum of 40 hours (or five days) of paid leave during a 12-month period to be used for any reason using their hourly rate of pay (tipped workers at minimum wage). Employers may still choose to offer more than 40 hours paid leave.

  • “Employer” is defined according to Sections 1 and 2 of the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act and includes State and units of local government, any political subdivision of the State or units of local government, or any State or local government agency, but excludes school districts organized under the School Code or park districts organized under the Park District Code and students employed temporarily and less than full-time by a college or university at which they are enrolled.

  • The 12-month period may be any consecutive 12-month period designated in writing at the time of hire and is subject to change with notice (without reducing the benefit).

  • There are no exceptions for small employers.

  • There are no exceptions for part-time employees. (Thus, a part-time employee working 20 hours a week will take two weeks to accrue 1 hour of leave, earning 26 hours per year.)

  • Employers may choose whether to award the benefit using an accrual method or an advanced-lump sum method.

  • For the advanced lump-sum method, the full benefit of 40 hours of leave is made available on the first day of employment or the first day of the 12-month period. Employers that use the lump sum method are not required to carry over paid leave from 12-month to -12-month period and may require employees to use all paid leave prior to the end of the benefit period.

  • For the accrual method, employers must carry over unused leave but are not required to provide more than 40 hours of leave in a 12-month period even in the case of carry over.

  • Employers are not required to cash out the balance of an outgoing employee’s paid leave, regardless of the award method chosen.

  • Employers may require 7 days’ notice to take leave for foreseeable events (with an exception provided for unforeseeable events).

  • Employers may not require the employee to find a replacement worker to receive leave under this benefit and may not disrupt health coverage during paid leave.

  • Employers must comply with posting requirements and maintain related records for 3 years.

  • Employers cannot circumvent these requirements by transferring employees to a separate division, entity, or location or by separating employees and rehiring within the same 12-month period.

  • Employers that violate the act would be subject to penalties, including fines and compensatory damages for the affected employee; related funds deposited into the paid Leave for All Workers Fund at Treasurer’s Office dedicated to enforcement.

Employee Benefits and Responsibilities 

  • Workers are eligible to begin earning paid leave on their first day of their employment and/or the first day of the 12-month period at a rate of one hour of leave for every 40 hours worked.

  • Exempt employees are deemed to work 40 hours for purposes of accrual unless their regular work week is less than 40 hours, in which case paid leave accrues based on that regular work week.

  • Employees may use their paid leave starting on the 90th day of employment; this provision is intended to offset the impact to employers with seasonal/temporary staff, both full and part time. (Employers may still choose to offer workers the use of paid leave before reaching 90 days of employment.)

  • Employees are not required to cite a reason for leave and may use this benefit before any other leave provided by the employer or State law.

  • If the use of leave is unforeseeable, an employee is directed to provide notice as soon as practicable.

Effective 1/1/23, this new law expands the state’s Child Bereavement Leave Act and renames it the Family Bereavement Leave Act. Existing law entitles employees to 10 days (2 weeks) of unpaid leave for workers suffering losses; this new law specifies that in addition to other already covered events, employees may take leave for pregnancy loss, failed adoptions, unsuccessful reproductive procedures, and other pregnancy-related events.  

Amends the Illinois Human Rights Act and to add traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles such as braids, locks, and twists to combat hair discrimination in the workplace. 

Creates the General Assembly Accessibility Task Force and makes changes to support accessibility needs of persons attending legislative meetings, hearings, floor proceedings, and press conferences at the Capitol Complex.  

This text of this bill, a “clean up” bill improving the Charitable Trust grant program, was added to the FY23 budget implementation bill in mid-2022 and became law. Forefront championed this bill. Read more about this unique grant program here 

Critical Workforce Investment

Forefront’s 2022 public policy survey results showed that workforce challenges remain a top issue for Forefront stakeholders. Indeed, the events of recent years have highlighted the need to specifically bolster the health and human services workforce and doing so has important racial equity implications. The HHS workforce is more likely to be BILPOC, female, and lower wage according to multiple studies, and Black and Latinx Illinoisans are disproportionately impacted by the mental health workforce shortage. 2/3rd of Black and Latinx individuals with a mental health need do not access care and Black Illinoisans are dying at a higher rate than the general population from opioid overdose. Here are some snapshots showing how the GA took steps to support the HHS workforce this session.  

Human Services Loan Repayment Program SB3925

Created a loan repayment program for community-based human service professionals to address the workforce crisis, but did not receive an appropriation. Forefront will support partners’ efforts to achieve funding for this purpose in the next budget cycle.  

Rebuild Illinois Mental Health Workforce Act HB4238/SB3935

Intended to stabilize the workforce crisis and improve access to care via substantial state funding which is eligible for federal match. This bill was supported by the Rebuild Illinois Behavioral Health Workforce Coalition, many of whom are key Forefront stakeholders. It is expected to help community mental health services to regain and retain staff and drive down waitlists. There are only 14 behavioral health care providers for every 10,000 residents of Illinois.

Ensuring a More Qualified, Competent, and Diverse Community Behavioral Health Workforce Act SB3617

Makes it easier for out-of-state providers to become licensed in Illinois, creates a peer training program, enables people whose licenses have lapsed in the past five years to be reinstated, establishes a tax credit program for employers that hire individuals who voluntarily state that they are in a recovery program for mental illness or addiction, and calls for more transparency from the Illinois Department of Healthcare & Family Services (HFS). This bill was supported by key partners includingCBHA, IABH, IARF, and Thresholds, and is expected to attract health and human services workers to sector employers and support more diversity and inclusion of BILPOC workers in the behavioral health workforce.

ID/DD Community Care Act HB 4647  

Ensures transparency and accountability on wage increases for workers providing I/DD services. 

Unfinished Business at State & Federal Levels

Restore the Federal Universal Charitable Deduction 

Restoration of the universal charitable or non-itemizer deduction is a major policy priority for Forefront and our counterparts nationwide. The universal charitable deduction expired at the end of 2021; 2022 did not have one in place, because Congress failed to act despite a massive amount of coordinated advocacy all year nationwide. Universal charitable deductions incentivize all taxpayers to give to charity, regardless of their income or whether they itemize. Forefront is very concerned about the lack of a federal UCD and invites stakeholders to share stories about how this failure impacted your charitable giving in 2022 as you wrap up your year-end finances. Download a Fact Sheet about the impact of federal tax policy on giving. Read resources from the Charitable Giving Coalition here and here.

Create a State “Endow Illinois” Tax Credit 

Endow IL received two subject matter hearings in the House Revenue committee and added nineteen co-sponsors in 2022. Forefront staff worked closely with IDOR to negotiate an improved bill that addresses administrative concerns. Watch for a clean compromise bill and more action in the 103rd GA this spring. 

Advance Lobbyist Registration Act Changes to Support Nonprofit Civic Engagement in IL 

Changes to the Lobbyist Registration Act were effective 1/1/22, but related rules still have not been promulgated. In the summer of 2022, Forefront, along with dozens of partner organizations, submitted a letter to the Secretary of State recommending changes to the administrative rules to relieve administrative and financial barriers to support nonprofit sector civic engagement. Forefront will continue to work with the new Secretary of State Administration on these recommendations. Further, we will support a bill in the 2023 to address changes that may only be made through law (i.e., 501c3 fee waiver). This remains a top priority for Forefront.


Raise the Nonprofit Audit Threshold in IL 

Illinois has the most burdensome nonprofit audit threshold in the US, requiring a full audit once a nonprofit receives solicited contributions more than $300,000. Full audits are costly and this is an undue burden on the smallest nonprofit businesses in Illinois. Many small nonprofits are led by Black, Indigenous, Latinx/o/a, and Persons of Color (BIPOC), serve persons of color, and/or conduct advocacy on behalf of BILPOC groups. In 2023, Forefront will introduce a bill that will set the threshold for a full audit at $500,000 in annual contributions. The proposal includes a sunset date of January 1, 2027, at which time the audit threshold may be revised again to reflect cost of living changes or revert to the current level. 

Provide Flexible Funding for Employers and Improve Workforce Benefits in IL 

A proposal to amend the IL Grant Accountability and Transparency Act (GATA) in important ways did not pass. The bill, which will be reintroduced by partners and supported by Forefront in 2023, will ensure grants do not restrict administrative costs to less than 20% and eliminate any caps on fringe benefits in state contracts (i.e., the costs of leave such as vacation, family-related, sick or military and employee insurance). This is particularly important in light of the recently enacted mandates impacting leave benefits in IL mentioned above.   

Other Policy Developments


Illinois Opioid Settlement

The IL Attorney General has reached settlement agreements with opioid manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacies which may result in resources becoming available to mental health and substance use employers and programs (see Crain’s article and Capital News Illinois). The money will flow through the Office of Opioid Settlement Administration at the Illinois Department of Human Services, which will appoint a Statewide Opioid Settlement Administrator. Allocation of funds will be based on recommendations from a newly created advisory board, chaired by the state’s chief behavioral health officer and made up of state and local appointees. Opioids have disproportionately hurt BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) communities, with Black communities experiencing the highest fatality rate. 


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