Effective January 1, 2017, the Illinois Employee Sick Leave Act (the “Act”) will allow employees to use employer-provided personal sick leave benefits to care for an ill or injured family member or attend a medical appointment with a family member. The Act defines an eligible family member—i.e., an individual the employee is taking leave to care for—as a child (biological, adopted, step-relation, or legal ward), spouse, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent, or stepparent in need of care during bouts of illness or injury or requiring transportation or other assistance related to a medical appointment. Employers may limit the use of sick leave for family-related medical care issues to an amount equivalent to six months of accrued leave, and the Act does not limit the employer’s ability to set the terms and conditions of the use of sick leave benefits.
There are certain notable limitations. While other states and cities (e.g., New York City, California, and Oregon) allow employees use of sick leave for family-related medical issues, in those locations, the use of sick leave for family care is part of a comprehensive sick leave law. In contrast, the Act only applies to Illinois employers who maintain internal sick leave policies. The Act also does not extend the maximum period of leave allowed under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Further, employers who maintain a general paid time off (“PTO”) policy will not be required to modify the policy if it already affords employees the opportunity to use PTO to care for an eligible family member’s healthcare needs.