On July 29, 2016, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law the Illinois Child Bereavement Leave Act (the “Act”). The Act, which became effective upon signing, provides certain Illinois employees up to ten workdays of unpaid leave to grieve the death of a child.  Employees who have been employed for twelve months or longer and worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous twelve-month period for an employer with fifty or more employees are eligible for bereavement leave under the Act.  Eligible employees may request and take leave for the death of a biological, adopted or foster child, stepchild, legal ward or a child of a person standing in loco parentis.  The leave may be used to: attend the child’s funeral or an alternative to a funeral; make arrangements necessitated by the child’s death; or grieve the death of the child.

If an employee intends to take leave under the Act, notice to the employer must be provided at least forty-eight hours’ in advance, if reasonable and practicable.  Employers may also require reasonable documentation (e.g., death certificate, published obituary, or written verification of death, burial or memorial services).  The bereavement leave must be completed within sixty days from the date the employee receives notice of his or her child’s passing.  In lieu of unpaid leave, an eligible employee may elect to take leave pursuant to a different leave policy or obligation provided by the employer, under a collective bargaining agreement, or under applicable law (e.g., family, medical, sick, annual, or personal leave).  The Act does not grant eligible employees right to take leave that exceeds, or is in addition to, the unpaid leave time allowed under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.

In the event of the death of more than one child in a twelve-month period, an employee may take up to six weeks of bereavement leave during that period.

Employers are prohibited from taking adverse action against employees exercising their rights under the Act, opposing practices that employees believe are in violation of the Act, or supporting other employees who request or use the bereavement leave.