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Illinois Passes New Child Bereavement Leave Law

On July 29, 2016, Illinois enacted the Child Bereavement Leave Act, a law giving unpaid leave benefits and protections to certain workers who are grieving for the loss of a child.   

The Child Bereavement Leave Act requires that employers give employees who have suffered the death of their child up to 2 weeks (10 work days) of unpaid leave to attend a funeral, make arrangements, or grieve for the loss of their child.  The employee may elect to substitute paid leave for the bereavement period, although an employer cannot mandate that paid leave be taken. 

The Child Bereavement Leave Act prevents employers from taking any adverse employment action against an employee who (1) exercises rights or attempts to exercise rights under the Act, (2) opposes practices the employee believes violate the Act, or (3) supports the exercise of rights of another under this Act.  An employee may bring a civil lawsuit against an employer who violates the Act, and the Illinois Department of Labor may investigate and remedy violations through administrative proceedings and fines. 

Of note, the Child Bereavement Leave Act only applies to employers who are covered under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), which applies to employers with 50 or more employees.

You may need to update your Employee Handbooks or leave policies to comply with the provisions of the statute.  For assistance, please contact the Employment or Business attorneys of Bozeman, Neighbour, Patton, & Noe, LLP.