Two laws recently enacted by the Illinois legislature affect most Illinois employers. These include:
The Child Bereavement Leave Act
This Act took effect July 29, 2016 and applies to all employers covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This type of leave is only available to employees who fall under the definition of an “eligible employee” under the FMLA. An employee who does not meet FMLA eligibility requirements is not eligible for Child Bereavement leave.
If an eligible employee has not exhausted all available FMLA leave and has a child who dies, the employee may take off up to a maximum of two weeks (10 working days) to:
“Child” includes the employee’s son or daughter who is a biological, adopted, or foster child, a stepchild, a legal ward, or a child of a person standing in loco parentis. The bereavement leave need not be paid, and must be taken within 60 days of the date the employee receives notification of the child’s death. The employee must provide the employer with at least 48 hours’ advance notice of the employee’s intent to take bereavement leave, unless providing such notice is not reasonable and practicable.
In the event of the death of more than one child in a 12-month period, an employee is entitled to take up to a total of 6 weeks of bereavement leave during the 12-month period.
Please note that Child Bereavement leave is not available if the employee has already exhausted all of his or her FMLA leave. Further, the employer has the right to require the employee to provide reasonable documentation to verify the need for leave, such as a death certificate, a published obituary, or a note from the funeral home.
The Employee Sick Leave Act
The Illinois Employee Sick Leave Act takes effect on Jan. 1, 2017.
The Act provides that employees may use “personal sick leave benefits” provided by an employer for absences due to an illness, injury, or medical appointment of the employee’s child, spouse, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent, or stepparent for reasonable periods of time as the employee’s attendance is necessary, on the same terms and conditions upon which the employee is able to use sick leave benefits for the employee’s own illness or injury.
The Act defines “personal sick leave benefits” as “time accrued and available to an employee to be used as a result of absence from work due to personal illness, injury, or medical appointment.” The term does not include “absences from work for which compensation is provided through an employer’s plan” which, according to the legislative history, appears to mean the employer’s short-term or long-term disability plans.
The Act allows an employer to limit the employee’s use of sick leave for one of the relatives described above to an amount not less than the personal sick leave amount that would have accrued during a six-month period at the employee’s then-current rate of entitlement. If an employee has more than six months’ worth of sick leave benefits available, the employer may cap the amount the employee can use for a family member’s illness, injury, or medical appointments to the amount of sick leave the employee earned over a six-month period.
The Act does not increase any rights an employee has under the FMLA and contains a non-retaliation provision prohibiting an employer from denying personal sick leave benefits in accordance with the Act and prohibits any act of retaliation (such as discharge, demotion, suspension, or any other form of discrimination) against an employee for using personal sick leave benefits as provided for in the Act.