Effective January 1, 2017, the Illinois Employee Sick Leave Act will permit an employee to use personal paid sick leave benefits provided by his/her employer for the illness, injury, or medical appointment of the employee’s child, spouse, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent, or stepparent. The employee will be entitled to use such sick leave benefits “for reasonable periods of time as the employee’s attendance may be necessary, on the same terms upon which the employee is able to use sick leave benefits for the employee’s own illness or injury.” Pursuant to the Act, employers can limit the use of such sick leave benefits to the amounts of personal sick leave the employee would accrue during six months at the employee’s current rate of entitlement. Stated differently, employers can limit the use of personal sick leave for family care to no more than six months of benefits even if the employee has more than six months of sick leave benefits available to him/her.
“Personal sick leave benefits” are defined under the Act to include “time accrued and available to an employee to be used as a result of absence from work due to personal illness, injury, or medical appointment.” Notably, the Act does not require an employer to provide sick leave benefits to employees if the employer does not already provide such benefits. The Act only affects employers who currently provide sick leave benefits to employees.
Further, the Act only provides rights that are in addition to rights provided under other federal, state, or local leave laws, including the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). The Act specifically provides it is not intended to extend the maximum amount of leave that an employee is entitled to under the FMLA, regardless of whether the employee receives sick leave compensation during the leave. Nonetheless, Chicago-area employers should be aware that the City of Chicago and Cook County recently passed new paid sick leave ordinances which require employers who maintain a business in Chicago or Cook County to provide eligible employees with paid sick leave benefits effective July 1, 2017. Furthermore, there is a significant push at the local and state levels to provide increased sick leave benefits to more employees. As a result, it is important to stay up-to-date on the most recent employee leave laws.
The Act prohibits discharging, threatening to discharge, demoting, suspending, or in any manner discriminating against an employee for using personal sick leave benefits or attempting to exercise the right to use personal sick leave benefits provided for under the Act. Employees have the ability to file complaints with the Illinois Department of Labor if they believe their rights are violated under the Act. Employers should review, and if necessary revise, their leave policies to ensure compliance with the Act and all other applicable leave laws.
The St. Louis employment attorneys at McMahon Berger have been representing employers across the country in labor and employment matters, including those relating to employee leave, for almost sixty years, and are available to discuss these issues and others. As always, the foregoing is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice regarding any particular situation or issue. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements.