Beginning January 1, 2024, employers in Illinois should take note of new and expanded leave entitlements for bereavement and organ donation, in addition to paid leave for any purpose. Both the Illinois Department of Labor and Department of Public Health are expected to amend rules and provide additional guidance on the fine details of how these laws will be implemented. Here’s what you need to know now:
New: Child Extended Bereavement Leave Act
Illinois legislators passed a new law this summer providing leave entitlement to parents in the wake of the loss of a child due to suicide or homicide.
Leave entitlement: Employees who experience the loss of a child by suicide or homicide can use a maximum of 12 weeks of unpaid leave if they work for a large employer, while an employee of a small employer can use a maximum of 6 weeks of unpaid leave. Employees can take leave in increments of at least 4 hours. An employee must complete the leave within one year after the employee notifies the employer of the loss.
Covered Employers: Employers classified as “large employers” and “small employers” will have to provide unpaid leave under this new law. Employers with 250 full-time employees or more in Illinois are considered large employers, while employers with 50-249 full-time employees in Illinois are considered small employers. Employers with fewer than 50 employees are not covered.
Eligible Employees: To be eligible, employees must have worked for their employer for at least two weeks. Employees of the state government are not covered, except for those employees who are not otherwise eligible for family responsibility leave or a leave of absence without pay. Job protection: Eligible employees are entitled to be restored to their previous position, or to a position with equivalent benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment. An employer cannot retaliate against an employee for exercising their rights or attempts to exercising rights under this law, opposing practices which such employee believes to be in violation of this law, or supporting the exercise of rights of another under this law.
Coordination with other laws: The Illinois Family Bereavement Leave Act (FBLA) allows an employee to take bereavement leave related to the death of their child, but a person who already takes time under this new law cannot take FBLA leave for the death of the same child. The new law does not extend the maximum period of leave to which an employee is entitled under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 or under any other paid or unpaid leave provided under federal, state or local law, a collective bargaining agreement, or an employment benefits program or plan.
Expanded: Victims Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA)
Covered Leave Reasons: The existing VESSA allows an employee to take unpaid leave from work for reasons related to domestic violence, sexual violence, gender violence, or any other crime of violence. The new law expanding VESSA adds the following leave reasons:
- Attending the funeral or alternative to a funeral or wake of a family or household member who is killed in a crime of violence;
- Making arrangements necessitated by the death of a family or household member who is killed in a crime of violence; and
- Grieving the death of a family or household member who is killed in a crime of violence.
Entitlement: An employee can take up to a total of 2 workweeks (10 work days) of unpaid leave for bereavement leave due to a crime of violence within 60 days after the employee learns of the death of the victim.
Documentation: An employer may ask the employee for a death certificate, published obituary, or written verification documenting that a victim was killed in a crime of violence.
Coordination with other laws: The FBLA allows an employee to take unpaid bereavement leave regardless of the cause of death of the family member. The new law contains the following rules regarding coordination between the new VESSA bereavement leave and the FBLA:
- If an employee is also entitled to take unpaid bereavement leave under the FBLA as a result of the death of the victim, the amendment does not create a right for the employee to take unpaid bereavement leave that exceeds, or is in addition to, the unpaid bereavement leave available under the FBLA.
- If an employee is also entitled to take unpaid bereavement leave under the FBLA as a result of the death of the victim, leave taken under VESSA for the newly added leave reasons or leave taken under FBLA is in addition to, and does not diminish, the existing entitlement an employee is provided under VESSA.
- If an employee is not entitled to unpaid bereavement leave under the FBLA as a result of the death of the victim, leave taken under VESSA for the newly added leave reasons must be deducted from, and is not in addition to, the existing entitlement an employee is provided under VESSA.
- Leave taken for the newly added bereavement leave reasons does not otherwise limit or diminish the existing entitlement an employee is provided under VESSA.
Expanded: Employee Blood and Organ Donation Leave Act
The existing Illinois Employee Blood Donation Leave Act requires employers with 51 or more employees to provide their eligible employees with one hour to donate blood every 56 days. The new law expands it to the “Employee Blood and Organ Donation Leave Act” and requires employers to provide eligible employees with up to 10 days of paid leave in any 12-month period to serve as an organ donor.
FINEOS can help with your state leave programs
FINEOS will be ready to administer these laws and regulations. Using modern insurance technology solutions like the FINEOS Platform can help insurance carriers remain compliant and competitive when leave legislation is revised and new leave programs are introduced. Learn more about how a modern, integrated disability and absence management (IDAM) solution can help your organization adapt to this rapidly evolving market and remain in compliance.