The Impact of 3 New Leave Law Amendments in Midwest States

Insurance carriers need agile absence management softwarein order to adapt in real-time when new leave legislation goes into effect. In this blog, you’ll learn about recent amendments to leave laws in Illinois and Iowa and how FINEOS is helping carriers remain in compliance.    

The latest changes to the following laws in Illinois and Iowa reflect current trends of broadening existing entitlements, including expanding coverage by adding additional public health reasons, still at the forefront of the minds of legislators. Additionally, legislators continue to push the boundaries in expanding the coverage of allowable family members, including individuals who, in the employee’s discretion, have relationships akin to family. 

Amendments to Illinois Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA) 

Signed August 20 and effective January 1, 2022, Illinois House Bill 3582 expands VESSA, the preexisting Illinois law providing a leave of absence for victims, in several key respects: 

Family Member – The amendment expands covered family members to include: 

  • civil union partner 
  • grandparent 
  • grandchild 
  • sibling 
  • any other person related by blood or by present or prior marriage or civil union 
  • any other individual whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship as determined by the employee. 

Leave reasons – Previously, the law permitted an employee to take leave when the employee or family member was a victim of domestic violence, sexual violence, or gender violence. The amendment now also permits an employee to take leave when they or their family are a victim of any other crime of violence. 

Documentation – The law makes it clear that when providing the required documentation for an absence, the employee has the right to select which of the allowable documents to submit. Additionally, the employer must not request or require more than one document to be submitted during the same 12-month period leave for leave related to the same incident or perpetrator. The amendment also clarifies that all information provided to the employer must be retained in the strictest confidence by the employer. 

Amendments to the Chicago Paid Sick Leave Ordinance  

Chicago Ordinance No. O2021-2182effective August 1, expands the leave reasons permitted under the existing Chicago Paid Sick Leave Ordinance: 

  • To make clear that mental or behavioral issues, including substance use disorders are covered 
  • To include needs relating to the employee or family member being a victim of “trafficking in persons” as defined by the Illinois Criminal Code. 
  • To add the following reasons related to a Public Health Emergency: 
    • When the employee or a family member is ordered to quarantine 
    • When an employee needs to care for a family member whose school, class, or place of care has been closed, regardless of order of a public official due to a public health emergency 
    • When an Employee obeys an order issued by the Mayor, the Governor of Illinois, the Chicago Department of Public Health, or a treating healthcare provider, requiring the Covered Employee to: 
      • stay at home to minimize the transmission of a communicable disease 
      • remain at home while experiencing symptoms or sick with a communicable disease 
      • obey a quarantine order issued to the Covered Employee 
      • obey an isolation order issued to the Covered Employee 

The amendment adds to the existing workplace posting requirement that the posting must address the employee’s ability to seek redress for wage theft, plus an annual mandatory notice regarding human trafficking and resources. 

Amendments to the Duluth Earned Sick and Safe Time Ordinance  

Effective August 19, Ordinance 21-023-O expands the Duluth Earned Sick and Safe Time Ordinance to provide pay when the employee suffers lost work hours due to a closure of the employee’s workplace for public health reasons. The amendment also requires an employer to provide every new employee with an individual copy of the employer’s earned sick and safe time policy or the employer’s substantially equivalent paid leave policy. Additionally, if an employer maintains an employee handbook, the earned sick and safe time policy or the employer’s substantially equivalent paid leave policy must be included in the employee handbook. 

What is FINEOS doing to prepare?   

FINEOS is ready to administer these amendments to help our clients remain in compliance. Using modern insurance technology solutions like the FINEOS Platform can help insurance carriers remain agile and competitive when leave legislation is revised. Learn more about how a modern, integrated disability and absence management solution can help your organization adapt to sudden changes and remain in compliance here.   

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