The Child Bereavement Leave Act (“the Act”) became effective July 29, 2016, and it provides up to two weeks (10 working days) of unpaid leave to employees in the event of the death of an employee’s child.

The Act applies to those employers covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), and the Act closely tracks the eligibility provisions of the FMLA. As with the FMLA, leave under the Act is unpaid. However, under the Act, employees may elect to substitute paid leave they have accrued, such as sick or personal days, for the bereavement leave. By doing so, the employee’s bereavement leave would become paid leave.

A “child” under the Act is defined broadly to include step, foster and adopted children. Employees are required to provide employers with at least forty-eight hours advance notice of their intention to take bereavement leave, unless doing so would be unreasonable or impracticable. Bereavement leave can be used to attend the funeral or other service of the child, make arrangements necessitated by the death of the child, or simply to grieve over the death of the child.

It is unlawful for employers to take adverse action against employees who exercise their rights under the Act. Employees may file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Labor or file a court action if they believe their rights have been violated.

Employers are urged to become familiar with this new law because it will impact absenteeism and leave policies.