New Requirement for Child Bereavement Leave
Aug 4, 2016
On July 29, 2016, Governor Rauner signed into law the Child Bereavement Leave Act, Public Act 99-0703. The Act provides a maximum of two weeks (10 work days) of unpaid leave for bereavement of an employee’s child. The Act is effective immediately.
Who is Covered?
The Act adopts the definition of “employer” and “employee” from the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. An employer is required to comply with the Act if it has more than 50 employees during 20 or more calendar workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year.
An employee is eligible for this leave under the Act if they have worked for the employer for at least 12 months and at least 1,250 hours during the previous 12 month period. An employee is entitled to take leave under the Act to:
1) Attend the funeral or alternative to a funeral of a child;
2) Make arrangements necessitated by the death of a child; or
3) Grieve the death of a child.
A child is defined as an employee’s son or daughter who is a biological, adopted, or foster child, a stepchild, a legal ward, or a child of a person standing in loco parentis.
Leave Under the Act
Employees are entitled to a maximum of two weeks (10 work days) of unpaid leave under the Act. The employee must take any unpaid leave allowed under the Act within 60 days after they are notified of the death of a child. Where possible and practical, an employee is required to provide 48 hours’ notice of their intent to use unpaid leave under the Act. An employer may ask for documentation verifying an employee’s use of unpaid leave, such as a death certificate, published obituary, or written verification from a mortuary, funeral home or government agency.
An employee may substitute any accrued paid or unpaid leave available under any contract, policy, benefit plan, state or federal law instead of unpaid leave under the Act. However, the Act is not intended to create a right to unpaid leave that exceeds, or is in addition to, the amount of leave available under FMLA.
Penalties for Failure to Comply
An employer is prohibited from taking any adverse actions against an employee for exercising his or her rights under the Act. If an employee believes their employer has violated the Act, they have 60 days to file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Labor or file a civil lawsuit in the circuit court. An employer who violates the Act is subject to a $500 penalty per employee for a first offense, and a $1,000 penalty per employee for any subsequent offense. An employee may also recover any equitable relief (e.g., court order to allow the leave) that is necessary to remedy a violation of the Act.