PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Local workers rights groups are celebrating the passage of the Paid Leave Bill in the Illinois Senate.

The Paid Leave for All Workers Act (SB 208) will require employers to provide at least 40 hours, or five days, of paid leave per year to be used for any reason. Employees will also have the ability to rollover unused hours to the next year.

“It is sweet justice. It is. We’re excited that this legislation has finally passed,” said Cherita Ellens, president and CEO of Women Employed, an organization advocating for women in the workplace for nearly 50 years. “I believe that there should be dignity in our work and I think that workers should not feel as if don’t have access or the agency to be able to take care of themselves, their own health and their well-being and the health and well-being of their loved ones.”

Ellens said it’s a big win for the 1.5 million workers in Illinois who do not have access to a single paid sick day.

“So this is something that we’ve been working on really hard for about a decade now, and we really believe that this is such a meaningful piece of legislation for workers,” she said. “Many times workers had to make the decision between going to work sick or staying home without pay. For the majority of workers who might be low income, that’s just not something feasible when you’re living paycheck to paycheck.”

Women are often the primary caregivers, said Ellens, and disproportionately represented in low paying roles.

“For women to be able to have time available for them to be able to take time to care for family member, to care for a child, or for themselves, and they’re sick and not worry about the economic impact that comes along with taking the day off, because you have to care for yourself or someone else is is significant,” said Ellens.

State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria), who shepherded the legislation, thanked business and labor communities for working together.

“Our employees are not only the backbone of our economy, but the backbone of their families and our communities, and they all deserve paid time off. I’m grateful to leaders in the business and labor communities who came together to make this historic legislation a reality,” said Gordon-Booth. “This legislation will help make our state a more livable, desirable place for workers of all trades and industries, and sends a strong message that Illinois is a place that not only values the contributions of our employees at their place of work, but as they build a life for themselves and their families.”

The bill now heads to Gov. JB Pritzker’s desk for his signature. Once passed, the bill will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024.