On Thursday, June 9, 2022, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker signed into law the Family Bereavement Leave Act (FBLA), amending the existing Illinois Child Bereavement Act. The Child Bereavement Act, passed in 2016, provided leave following the loss of a child, adopted or biological, foster placement, or stepchild. The FBLA goes further by broadening who is covered by the Act and the types of events which qualify for coverage. Under the FBLA, a covered loss no longer is limited to the death of a child, but is expanded to a “covered family member,” which includes an employee’s child, stepchild, spouse, domestic partner, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent, or stepparent.
Employees who experience an event covered by the FBLA are entitled to a maximum of two weeks (ten days of work) unpaid bereavement leave. The employee is granted leave to: (1) attend the funeral or alternative to a funeral; (2) make arrangements necessitated by the death; and (3) grieve the death of the covered family member.
In addition to the situations above, the FBLA also provides bereavement leave when one of the following occurs: (i) miscarriage; (ii) unsuccessful round of intrauterine insemination or of an assisted reproductive technology procedure; (iii) failed adoption match or an adoption that is not finalized because it is contested by another party; (iv) failed surrogacy agreement; (v) diagnosis that negatively impacts pregnancy or fertility; or (vi) a stillbirth.
At its discretion, the employer may require “reasonable documentation” from the employee seeking leave, such as a published obituary or death certificate. If the leave sought by the employee is the result of an event described in subsections (i) – (vi) noted in the preceding paragraph, the Act provides a mechanism for protecting that employee’s health privacy when their employer requires documentation. To accomplish this, Illinois Department of Labor forms can be issued to health care providers which allow for verification of the leave-causing event without disclosing specifically the nature of the event.
The FBLA, which becomes effective January 1, 2023, provides employees with additional leave rights that Illinois employers need to be aware of to comply. Taking adverse action against an employee who uses such leave can result in litigation and civil penalties, increasing an employer’s potential risk. Please contact a McMahon Berger attorney with any questions.
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.