On July 29, 2016, Illinois enacted the Child Bereavement Leave Act (“CBLA”), which requires employers in Illinois with at least 50 employees to provide up to 2 weeks (10 work days) of unpaid leave to an employee who has lost his or her child. With the enactment of the CBLA, Illinois became the one of two states in the U.S. to pass a law on taking child bereavement leave.
Under Illinois’ CBLA, employees may take a child bereavement leave period to (1) attend the funeral or alternative to a funeral of a child; (2) make arrangements necessitated by the death of the child; or (3) grieve the death of the child. Leave must be taken within 60 days of notice of a child’s death, and the employee’s intention to take the leave must be conveyed to the employer at least 48 hours in advance, unless it is not reasonable and practicable. If the employee loses more than one child in a span of 12 months, he or she is entitled to up to a total of 6 weeks of bereavement leave in the 12-month period.
The CBLA takes many of its cues from the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). The CBLA’s definitions for “employer” and “employee” are the same as under the FMLA which means that any employer or employee covered by the FMLA is also covered under the CBLA. The CBLA does not create a right for an employee to take unpaid leave that exceeds the unpaid leave time allowed under, or in addition to the unpaid leave permitted by, the FMLA. The definition of a “child” under the Act covers “biological, adopted, or foster child, a stepchild, a legal ward, or a child of a person standing in loco parentis.”
The CBLA also provides protection for employees under certain circumstances. The CBLA prohibits employers from taking any adverse action against an employee because the employee exercises or attempts to exercise the rights provided by the CBLA, opposes practices that the employee believes violates the CBLA, or supports the exercise of the rights under the Act by other employees. The Illinois Department of Labor (“IDOL”) is authorized to conduct investigations and, if IDOL finds cause to believe that the CBLA has been violated, it must refer the matter to an Administrative Law Judge for a formal hearing. An employee who believes his or her rights under the CBLA, or any rule adopted under the CBLA, may file a civil action or a complaint with IDOL.
Illinois employers are responsible for compliance with the CBLA as of July 29, 2016. In light of this new legislation, employers should: (1) review and update any policies, practices, and notice postings to include the CBLA; (2) make sure that appropriate personnel understand how to manage employee requests for child bereavement © 2016 Masuda, Funai, Eifert & Mitchell, Ltd. All rights reserved. 5 leave; (3) make sure to keep records and documentation regarding child bereavement leave or any other right under the CBLA to minimize risk in the event of an IDOL investigation or an employee’s civil action.