Navigating Illinois' Expanded Bereavement Leave Rights

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Illinois recently made expansions to bereavement leave rights for two groups of employees: parents who lose a child to suicide or homicide, and family members of those killed in a crime of violence.

Signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker on July 28 and August 4, 2023, these changes were outlined in the Child Extended Bereavement Leave Act (SB2034) and House Bill 2493, amending the Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA). These rights are effective January 1, 2024.

Child Bereavement Leave for Suicide or Homicide

  • These expanded rights apply to all Illinois employers with at least 50 full-time employees in Illinois.
  • To become eligible, an employee must have worked for an Illinois based employer for at least 2 weeks.
  • Small employers (50 to 249 full-time employees in Illinois) are required to offer up to 6 weeks of unpaid leave, while large employers (250+ full-time employees in Illinois) must provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave.
  • Employees can take leave continuously or intermittently in increments of at least four hours.
  • Unlike the Family Bereavement Act, leave can be taken within the 12 month period after notifying the employer of the loss.
  • Employers may request reasonable documentation, including a death certificate or published obituary.
  • Employees can substitute any paid or unpaid leave for an equivalent period.
  • The Act doesn’t extend maximum leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.
  • Employees cannot take additional leave under the Illinois Family Bereavement Act for the same child’s death.

Leave for Family Members of Those Killed in Crimes of Violence

  • House Bill 2493 amends VESSA to allow up to two weeks of unpaid leave for family members of those killed in a crime of violence to attend the funeral, make necessary arrangements, and grieve.
  • Leave must be taken within 60 days after the employee receives notice of the death.
  • Employers may require certification, including a death certificate or published obituary, confirming the crime of violence.
  • If eligible, employees can take additional unpaid leave under the Family Bereavement Leave Act for the same family or household member’s death.

Illinois employers should review and revise their bereavement policies, if needed, to ensure they are in compliance with these new requirements effective January 1, 2024.

This is an active time for leave-related legislation. Each year, states nationwide review and revise their legislation to make it more accessible. If your team is managing leave in multiple states, staying abreast of these frequent changes can be a struggle. Outsourcing employee leave to Sparrow, the first true end-to-end leave management provider for modern employers, can provide you with confidence in your leave compliance.

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