On July 29th, Governor Bruce Rauner’s signed the Illinois Child Bereavement Leave Act which came into effect immediately. The act will provide up to two weeks (10 working days) of unpaid leave to employees in the event of the death of the employee’s child. If the employee suffers the loss of more than one child in a 12 month period, they may take up to six weeks of leave. The leave must be utilized within 60 days of the notice of loss.

The Act applies to employers covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), who have 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius Only employees who are eligible for FMLA are eligible for the Bereavement Leave Act. Thus only employees who have been employed for 12 months, and have worked at least 1250 hours within that time are eligible upon the loss of a child.

In an odd and unfortunate twist, employees who have exhausted their FMLA do not seem to be eligible to use bereavement leave as the Act states that it does not create a right for an employee to take leave that exceeds the unpaid leave time available under the FMLA.

Employees may use bereavement leave:

  • to attend the funeral, or an alternative to a funeral, of the child;
  • to make arrangements necessitated by the death of the child; or
  • to grieve the death of the child.

A child under the Act includes biological children, stepchildren, adopted and foster children as well as the child of a person standing “in loco parentis.”

Although this leave is unpaid, an employee has the option to take any accrued leave offered by their employer for payment. An employee is required to provide at least 48 hours notice unless this notice is not practicable.