Effective July 29, 2016, Illinois has passed a law requiring employers to provide unpaid leave to employees who experience the loss of a child. This law, called the Illinois Child Bereavement Leave Act (CBLA), requires employers to allow employees to take up to 10 work days of unpaid leave.
Employers with 50 or more employees are subject to the CBLA, following the same definition of an employer who is subject to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Additionally, the eligibility for an employee to take CBLA leave also falls in line with those eligible for FMLA leave.
An employee who qualifies for CBLA must take their leave within 60 days after the notice of the death of a child. A child is defined as an employee’s son or daughter who is biological, adopted, or foster child, a stepchild, a legal ward, or a child of a person standing “in loco parentis.”
In the event that an employee experiences the loss of more than one child in a year, they would be entitled to six weeks of unpaid bereavement leave within those 12 months. Employees may use this leave to attend the funeral or alternative to a funeral for a child, to make arrangements due to the death of a child, or to grieve the death of a child. Employees may opt to use paid leave time that they may have available to them, but, unlike FMLA, employers cannot require employees to use any paid leave. If an employee has exhausted their FMLA leave of 12 weeks in a given 12 months, employers aren't required to offer CBLA leave as well. However, employers may still opt to provide the additional two weeks.
When reasonable, an employee must provide the employer with 48 hours’ notice prior to taking leave under CBLA. An employer may require reasonable documentation, such as a death certificate or published obituary, to validate the leave request.
All employers in Illinois who are subject to FMLA should review their leave policies immediately in order to accommodate child bereavement leave. They should also notify their employees of the updated leave policy and that employees may contact their Human Resources department for more information.