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Volume XII, Number 275


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Updates to Illinois’s Bereavement Leave and Employee Sick Leave Laws

llinois Governor JB Pritzker recently signed into law two bills addressing employee leave. The Family Bereavement Leave Act (FBLA) provides eligible employees with unpaid time off to grieve the death of a family member covered by the act, and it provides employees with time off due to certain pregnancy- or adoption-related events. A recently enacted amendment to the Employee Sick Leave Act (ESLA) sets minimum standards in a negotiated collective bargaining agreement.

Family Bereavement Leave Act

On June 9, 2022, Governor Pritzker signed the FBLA into law, amending the Child Bereavement Leave Act (CBLA) and expanding the scope of unpaid bereavement leave available to employees in Illinois. The FBLA becomes effective on January 1, 2023.

Under the CBLA, bereavement leave was only available for the loss of a child. With the enactment of the FBLA, unpaid bereavement leave may be used for the death of a “covered family member,” a term that includes “an employee’s child, stepchild, spouse, domestic partner, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent, or stepparent.”

Employees will be eligible to take FBLA leave if they are eligible employees under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which requires at least twelve months of employment and at least 1,250 hours worked within the previous twelve-month period. The FBLA does not create a right to take unpaid leave exceeding or in addition to the leave time permitted by the FMLA.

Effective January 1, 2023, eligible employees will be entitled to use a maximum of two weeks (ten work days) of unpaid bereavement leave to:

  • attend the funeral or alternative to a funeral of the covered family member;

  • make arrangements necessitated by the death of the covered family member;

  • grieve the death of the covered family member; or

  • be absent from work due to (i) a miscarriage; (ii) an unsuccessful round of intrauterine insemination or of an assisted reproductive technology procedure (e.g., artificial insemination or embryo transfer); (iii) a failed adoption match or an adoption that is not finalized because it is contested by another party; (iv) a failed surrogacy agreement; (v) a diagnosis that negatively impacts pregnancy or fertility; or (vi) a stillbirth.

As with the CBLA, an employee must provide an employer with at least forty-eight hours’ advance notice when the employee intends to take bereavement leave, unless such notice is not reasonable or practicable. The employee must complete his or her bereavement leave within sixty days after the date on which the employee receives notice of the death of the covered family member or the occurrence of the pregnancy-related or adoption-related event. In the event of the death of more than one covered family member in a twelve-month period, an employee may take up to a total of six weeks of unpaid bereavement leave in the twelve-month period.

As with the CBLA, employers may require reasonable documentation demonstrating the reason for the leave. However, if the leave resulted from a pregnancy- or adoption-related event, an employer may not require the employee to identify which event led to the leave.

Employee Sick Leave Act Amendment

The ESLA does not require Illinois employers to provide any sick leave to employees. However, under the ESLA, if an Illinois employer provides sick leave or paid time off, employees must be able to use at least a portion of such time to care for certain relatives. ESLA requires an employer to allow an employee to use such time “for absences due to an illness, injury, medical appointment or [the] personal care of the employee’s covered family member” (including the employee’s child, stepchild, spouse, domestic partner, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent, or stepparent) “on the same terms upon which the employee is able to use personal sick leave benefits for the employee’s own illness or injury.” The employer may limit the amount of sick leave to be used for a covered family member to half of the employee’s maximum annual grant of such leave.

On May 13, 2022, Governor Pritzker signed into law SB 645, a measure which provides that, as of January 1, 2023, “[t]he rights afforded under [the ESLA] serve as the minimum standard in a negotiated collective bargaining agreement.”

Key Takeaways

Employers may want to review their leave policies and practices for compliance with Illinois’s leave requirements under the FBLA and ESLA.

© 2022, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 167

About this Author

Jennifer Colvin, Ogletree Deakins Law Firm, Labor and Employment, Litigation Law Attorney, Chicago

Jennifer Colvin’s practice is focused on labor and employment litigation.  She began her legal career as an Administrative Law Judge with the Illinois Labor Relations Board, specializing in public sector labor law.  Jennifer joined Ogletree Deakins in 2006.

Jennifer’s current practice ranges from advice and counseling on matters such as employee handbooks, personnel policies, downsizing, family/medical leave, medical examinations, drug testing, discipline and discharge, and non-compete/non-solicitation issues to litigation and alternative...