Bereavement Leave in Illinois Expanded
Earlier this month, Illinois signed into law the Family Bereavement Leave Act (the “FBLA”). The FBLA expands upon the state’s unpaid leave for workers following the death of a child to now cover other family members. Illinois will join Oregon and Maine as one of the three most progressive states for employee bereavement leave. The effective date is January 1, 2023.
What Illinois Employers should know
In 2016, Illinois enacted the Child Bereavement Leave Act (the “CBLA”), which grants certain employees up to ten workdays of unpaid leave after the death of a child. To be eligible, an employee needs to be employed at the same employer for at least 12 months and have worked a minimum of 1,250 during that period. The law covers not just biological children but adopted, fostered, and stepchildren, too.
The new legislation, which Governor Pritzker signed into law on June 10, expands the scope of the CBLA to also cover the death of an employee’s spouse or domestic partner; sibling; parent; mother-in-law or father-in-law; grandchild; grandparent; or stepparent.
Additionally, the FBLA’s bereavement leave covers a variety of life events which can be commonly grouped as an “unexpected lack of parenthood.” These unfortunate events include:
- A miscarriage or stillbirth,
- A diagnosis that negatively impacts pregnancy or fertility,
- An “unsuccessful round of intrauterine insemination or of an assisted reproductive technology procedure,”
- A failed adoption match or an adoption that is not finalized because it is contested by another party, and
- A failed surrogacy agreement.
The new law is intended to ensure employees across the state can take time to grieve before returning to work without fear of termination. The Act also specifies the employee need not identify which category of event warrants the leave. The Illinois Department of Labor will provide forms for health care practitioners to verify the leave-inciting event without violating patient privacy.
The FBLA greatly expands bereavement leave and presents new compliance hurdles for human resource departments. As with the CBLA, the FBLA will make it unlawful for employers to take adverse action against employees for using FBLA leave, impose civil penalties for violations of the Act, and provide a cause of action for employees and the state to enforce employer obligations.
The FBLA also establishes certain rights and obligations for employers to follow in their administration of these benefits, including requiring employees to provide “reasonable documentation” to establish eligibility to receive the time off. It is anticipated that the Illinois Department of Labor will provide guidance on the Act in the coming months.
Brody and Associates regularly advises management on complying with the latest local, state and federal wage and hour laws. If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203.454.0560.