Companies with employees in Illinois need to be aware of new leave benefits that will be effective January 1, 2023. On June 9, 2022, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker signed the Family Bereavement Leave Act (FBLA) into law.
This new law expands leave under the existing Illinois Child Bereavement Leave Act (CBLA) to cover bereavement leave for an employee’s family member as well as certain pregnancy, fertility, and adoption-related events such as miscarriages, stillbirths, failed in vitro fertilization procedures, and failed adoption agreements. Covered employers include those with 50 or more employees for each working day during each of 20 or more calendar workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year. Eligible employees must have been employed by the covered employer for at least 12 months and have worked for the covered employer for at least 1,250 hours within the previous 12 months.
Under the FBLA, eligible employees may use up to 2 weeks (10 workdays) of unpaid leave which do not need to be taken consecutively. An employee in Illinois may qualify for bereavement leave under the following circumstances: (1) to attend the funeral, or alternative to a funeral, of a covered family member; (2) make arrangements necessitated by the death of a covered family member; (3) grieve the death of a covered family member; or (4) be absent from work due to a miscarriage or pregnancy loss, an unsuccessful round of in vitro fertilization or a failed assisted reproductive technology procedure, a failed adoption match or an adoption that is not finalized because it is contested by another party, a failed surrogacy agreement, a diagnosis that negatively impacts pregnancy or fertility, or stillbirth. Employees may substitute any accrued, unused paid leave they may have for unpaid leave under the FMLA.
Bereavement leave must be completed within 60 days after the date on which the employee receives notice of the qualifying event. Employers may, but are not required, to instruct employees to provide reasonable documentation when requesting leave under the FBLA.
However, employers may not require employees to identify which category of event the leave pertains to. In addition, the employee must give 48 hours’ notice of the need for leave unless doing so would not be reasonable or practicable. Further, if an employee experiences more than one death of a covered family member within a 12-month period, the employee is entitled to a total of 6 weeks of leave during the 12-month period. The new law does not permit an employee to exceed the total amount of leave available under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.
The FBLA also expands the definition of a “covered family member” to now include: (1) children; (2) stepchildren; (3) spouses; (4) domestic partners; (5) siblings; (6) parents; (7) parents-in-law; (8) grandchildren; (9) grandparents; and (10) stepparents.
Given the fast-approaching effective date of the FBLA, Illinois employers should update their bereavement leave policies to ensure compliance with the law’s requirements. McMahon Berger has attorneys licensed to practice in Illinois who are ready to assist employers with these new bereavement leave requirements.
The St. Louis employment attorneys at McMahon Berger have been representing employers across the country in labor and employment matters for over 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 as every situation must be evaluated on its own facts. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements.