Friday August 4, 2023, was a busy day for Governor Prizer with 94 bills being signed (and one vetoed). Among the bills signed by the Governor is the Child Extended Bereavement Leave Act, which will take effect on January 1, 2024. This new law extends the amount of unpaid leave that employees are entitled to for certain categories of child bereavement.
Also referred to as Zachary’s Parent Protection Act, the Child Extended Bereavement Leave Act (CEBLA), provides extended leave if the employee experiences the loss of a child by suicide or homicide.
The Child Extended Bereavement Act was inspired by Laura Kane, and her son Zachary, who died by suicide in 2018. She was required to return to work just three days later. She later lost her job amid her grief. “I was let go from my employment due to being unable to perform my duties to my employer’s expectation, as a result of the trauma and the grief that I was suffering following the sudden death of my child,” she said. “The bill will give families the job protection they deserve during this type of crisis.”
Employers Impacted by the Child Extended Bereavement Leave Act
The new law sets maximum leave allowed depending upon the number of employees employed by a business:
- “Large Employer” means the business employs 250 or more full-time employees. An employee of a large employer is entitled to use a maximum of 12 weeks of unpaid leave if the employee experiences the loss of a child by suicide or homicide.
- “Small Employer” means the business employs at least 50 but fewer than 250 full-time employees. An employee of a small employer is entitled to use a maximum of 6 weeks of unpaid leave if the employee experiences the loss of a child by suicide or homicide.
Other requirements of the Zachary’s Parent Protection Act
Employers should also be aware that:
- “Employee” means a full-time employee of a large employer or a small employer who has worked for that employer for at least 2 weeks.
- Leave may be taken in a single continuous period or intermittently in increments of no less than 4 hours, but leave must be completed within one year after the employee notifies the employer of the loss.
- An employer can require reasonable advance notice of the employee’s intention to leave and reasonable documentation.
- An employee who takes leave under the Act is entitled to be restored to the position of employment held by the employee when the leave commenced or to be restored to an equivalent position.
- The employee taking leave does not accrue seniority or employment benefits during the period of leave.
- The Act does not extend the maximum period of leave to which an employee is entitled under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 or under any other paid or unpaid leave provided under federal, State or local law, a collective bargaining agreement, or an employment benefits program or plan.
- An employer is prohibited from taking any adverse action against an employee who exercises his or her rights under the Act.
- Employees are not entitled to take leave under both the Child Bereavement Leave Act and the Child Extended Bereavement Leave Act. Only one type of leave can be used.
The Child Bereavement Leave Act
CEBLA differs from the Child Bereavement Leave Act in that under CEBLA the use is limited to the loss of a child by suicide or homicide whereas the Child Bereavement Leave Act applies to the loss of any child. However, both Acts have a minimum threshold of at least 50 employees before it is applicable to a business.
Under the Child Bereavement Leave Act, “Child” means an employee’s biological, adopted, or foster child, a stepchild, a legal ward, or a child of a person standing in loco parentis (such as a grandparent raising a child). Eligible employees have the same requirements outlined in the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (29 U.S.C. 2601 et seq.), specifically 1,250 hours of service with the employer in the preceding 12-month period.
The Act is designed to permit employees to attend the funeral or alternative to a funeral of a child, make arrangements necessitated by the death of the child; or grieve the death of the child.
In the unfortunate event of the death of more than one child in a 12-month period, an employee is entitled to a maximum of 6 weeks of bereavement leave during the 12-month period. Employers should note that while this Act expands the reach of the FMLA, it does not grant additional time off beyond that already provided by the FMLA.
Under the Act, the leave must be completed within 60 days after the date the employee receives notice of the child’s death. Unless unreasonable or impractical, the employee shall provide the employer with at least 48 hours’ advance notice of the leave. Employers may require reasonable documentation, including a death certificate, a published obituary, or written verification of death, burial, or memorial services.
For more information, see our blog here.
Illinois Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA)
The Illinois Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA) was also recently amended to expand leave available to employees grieving a family member’s death arising from a crime of violence. VESSA allows employees who are victims of domestic violence, sexual violence, gender violence, or any other crime of violence or who have family or household members who are victims of such violence to take up to twelve (12) weeks of unpaid leave per any twelve (12) month period to seek medical help, legal assistance, counseling, safety planning, and other assistance. The Act also prohibits employers from discriminating against employees who are victims of domestic violence, sexual violence, gender violence, or any other crime of violence or who have family or household members who are victims of violence.
Employers operating in Illinois should carefully review both the CEBLA and VESSA in conjunction with their policies and practices related to bereavement leave. For more information about the expanded VESSA leave, see our blog here.
If you have questions about how the Child Extended Bereavement Leave Act (CEBLA) may impact your business or other employment law needs, contact Navigant Law Group, LLC at (847) 253-8800 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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