Illinois has just passed a new law, the “Child Bereavement Leave Act” which will allow up to 10 working days of unpaid leave to attend the funeral of a child, make arrangements necessitated by the death of a child, or grieve the loss of a child.
The law defines a “child” as the employee’s son or daughter who is a biological, adopted or foster child, a step child or a legal ward.
The law applies to all employers as defined under the Family and Medical Leave Act (Generally employers who employ 50 or more employees). In order to be eligible for the leave, employees must meet the criteria set out in the Family and Medical Leave Act (work at least 1250 hours for an employer in a single work year).
The child bereavement leave must be taken within 60 days after the death of the child. Provided it is reasonable and practical, the employee must give the employer at least 48 hours notice of the intention to take the leave.
An employer may require reasonable documentation, which may include a death certificate, or written verification of death, burial or memorial services from a mortuary, funeral home or burial society.
The Child Bereavement Leave Act does not create a right for an employee to take unpaid leave that exceeds the time allowed under the Family and Medical Leave Act. An employee is permitted to substitute any available paid time in lieu of taking the time unpaid (i.e. accrued vacation or personal time, sick time, personal or other similar time available.
It is unlawful for an employer to take any adverse action against an employee who (1) attempts to take leave under the Act: (2) opposes practices which the employee believes violate the Act: or (3) supports the exercise of the rights of another under the Act.
The Illinois Department of Labor is charged with administering and enforcing the Act. The Illinois Department of Labor is authorized to impose civil penalties and recover the amount of unpaid wages, damages and penalties, however 20% of any penalty assessed will be deposited into a special Child Bereavement Fund which will be used for the further enforcement of the Act.
Employees who believe their employer has violated the Act may file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Labor. They may also choose to file a separate civil suit.
An employer found to have violated the Act is subject to a civil penalty for each employee affected as follows:
- First offense – civil penalty not to exceed $500;
- Second or subsequent offense: civil penalty not to exceed $1,000.
- Additional equitable remedies may be available by the court to ensure further violations of the Act do not occur.
With over 30 years’ experience in advising employees and businesses on labor and employment issues and business concerns, such as our post on what to do with the Zika virus, let Boznos Law work with you to ensure you are ready to meet the challenges posed by the ever changing business law landscape. Call Bill Boznos today at (630) 375-1958 or contact us at www.boznoslawoffice.com/contact-us.