Illinois: Upcoming Amendment to Leave Laws
The Illinois Legislature recently passed employee-friendly bills amending various leave regulations. The amendments shall provide for –
- Added protections and leave of absence benefits for employees who are victims of domestic, sexual, gender, or criminal violence (or who have a family member who is such a victim).
- Additional leave for employees who are organ donors.
- Additional protection for employees who suffer the loss of a child through suicide or homicide.
Governor J.B. Pritzker is expected to sign the bills by August 16, 2023, and the amendments shall become effective soon after.
Additional Protection under Bereavement Leave Requirements
Currently, Illinois employers that are covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act, which generally includes those with 50 or more employees within 75 miles, must provide employees up to 2 weeks (10 work days) of unpaid bereavement time off from work, up to a maximum of six weeks per 12-month period.
The FBLA definition of a “covered family member” includes an employee’s child, stepchild, spouse, domestic partner, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent, or step-parent. “Child” continues to include biological, adopted, foster, or step – relationships, or a legal ward or other child of a person standing in the position of a parent.
In accordance with the proposed amendment, employers shall provide additional leave benefits to allow employees to grieve the loss of a child (26 years of age or younger) under challenging circumstances. The Child Extended Bereavement Leave Act (CEBLA) requires employers with at least 50 employees to provide –
- 6 weeks (employers with 50-249 full-time employees) of unpaid protected leave for employees who have lost a child due to suicide or homicide.
- 12 weeks (for employers with 250 or more employees) of unpaid protected leave to employees who have lost a child due to suicide or homicide.
Employees will be entitled to take leave continuously or intermittently in increments of at least 4 hours to grieve or for circumstances related to the loss, so long as the duration of the leave is completed within 1 year of the employee notifying their employer of the loss. Employees taking leave under the CEBLA will not be entitled to take additional leave under the FBLA.
Child Extended Bereavement Leave Act also redefines the definition of “child” to mean an employee’s biological, adopted, or foster child, a stepchild, a legal ward, or a child of a person standing in loco parentis.
Illinois Legislature Extends Leave Available Under VESSA
Currently, the Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA) provides unpaid protected leave to employees for purposes related to the employee or their family member being a victim of domestic violence or abuse, and victim of sexual, gender, or violent crime. As per the VESSA Act, employees shall be entitled to the leave in the below manner for non-death related reasons –
- 12 weeks of unpaid leave for employees of an employer with at least 50 employees;
- 8 weeks of unpaid leave for businesses employing between 15-49 employees; and
- 4 weeks of unpaid leave for businesses employing 1-14 employees.
The Illinois legislature has amended the Victims’ Economic Safety and Security Act (VESSA), expanding the list of reasons for which employees may take leave to include those related to an employee with a family or household member who has been killed as a victim of violent crime. In addition to the current leave entitlement under VESSA, following the amendment, employees may use up to 2 weeks of additional unpaid leave to make arrangements, attend the funeral or mourn the death of a family or household member killed in a crime of violence. This leave must be completed within 60 days after the date the employee learns of the victim’s death, and cannot be combined with leave available under the FBLA.
Organ Donors Entitled to Paid Leave
Currently, employees in Illinois are entitled to take 1 hour of paid leave every 56 days for the purpose of donating blood.
In accordance with the amendment to the Employee Blood Donation Leave Act, the name shall be newly retitled to Employee Blood Donation and Organ Donation Leave Act. The employer shall provide any Illinois employees who serve as an organ donor with 10 days of paid leave in any 12-month period.
Illinois employers must be prepared as these new obligations will become effective immediately upon signature by Governor Pritzker, Illinois employers are encouraged to review existing leave policies to ensure compliance.