Illinois Leave Law Activity: VESSA Amendments, New Type of Bereavement Leave and Organ Donation

by Lana L. Rupprecht, Esq. - AVP Product Compliance

August 29, 2023

 

Lumen holding pencilEarlier this month, the Governor of Illinois signed three leave-related laws impacting employees in Illinois. All are effective January 1, 2024. What are they? Read on for more!

HB 2493 Amendments to Illinois Victims' Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA)

The law amends VESSA, as follows:

  • If a family or household member is killed in a crime of violence, an employee may take up to two workweeks (10 workdays) of unpaid leave to:
    • Attend a funeral or alternative to a funeral or wake,
    • Make arrangements necessitated by the death of the victim, and/or
    • Grieve the death of the victim
  • The leave taken for a family or household member killed in a crime of violence must be completed within 60 days after the date on which the employee receives notice of the victim's death.
  • The employee may satisfy the certification requirement for this leave by providing a death certificate, published obituary, or written verification of death, burial, or memorial services from a mortuary, funeral home, burial society, crematorium, religious institution, or government agency, documenting that a family or household member was killed in a crime of violence.

The VESSA amendments also discuss how this leave interacts with another law, the Illinois Family Bereavement Leave Act. See our prior blog here for background information.

  • Under the VESSA amendments, if an employee is also entitled to take bereavement leave under the Illinois Family Bereavement Leave Act, the following rules apply:
    • VESSA does not create a right for the employee to take additional bereavement leave that the employee would already be entitled to under the Illinois Family Bereavement Leave Act.
    • Leave taken under VESSA due to the death of a family or household member due to a crime of violence or leave taken under the Illinois Family Bereavement Leave Act shall be in addition to and shall not diminish the total amount of leave an employee may take for other qualifying reasons described under VESSA.
  • The amendments also provides that leave taken under VESSA due to the death of a family or household member killed in a crime of violence shall not otherwise limit or diminish the amount of leave an employee may take for the other leave reasons identified under VESSA.
  • BUT if an employee is not otherwise entitled to leave under the Illinois Family Bereavement Leave Act, leave taken under VESSA for the death of a family or household member killed in a crime of violence will be deducted from, and is not in addition to, the total amount of leave time to which an employee is entitled to for the other leave reasons identified under VESSA.
 

NOTE: As a reminder, VESSA will continue to allow employees to take leave for the additional leave reasons already identified in the statute. That is, if an employee or a family member are victims of domestic, sexual or a crime of violence, they may take leave in order to:

  • Seek medical attention or counseling
  • Relocate or participate in related activities to protect the victim's safety
  • Obtain services from victim services organizations
  • Seek legal assistance or participate in related criminal proceedings

The size of the employer dictates the amount of VESSA leave:

  • Employers with 50 or more employees = 12 workweeks
  • Employers with 15-49 employees = 8 workweeks
  • Employees with 1-14 employees = 4 workweeks

SB 2034 Illinois Child Extended Bereavement Leave Act

SB 2034 is a new law called the Child Extended Bereavement Leave Act or Zachary's Parent Protection Act.

Under this law, employers with 250 or more full time employees must permit their Illinois employees to use up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the loss of a child due to homicide or suicide (for employers with 50-249 full time employees, it is 6 weeks of unpaid leave).

The law also provides as follows:

  • Leave may be taken in a single continuous period or intermittently in increments of no less than 4 hours.
  • Leave must be completed within one year after the employee notifies the employer of the loss.
  • Employers may require employees to provide reasonable advance notice of intention to take leave unless it is not reasonable or practicable.
  • An employer may require reasonable documentation to support the leave. This documentation may include a death certificate, a published obituary, or written verification of death, burial, or memorial services from a mortuary, funeral home, burial society, crematorium, religious institution, or government agency. An employer may require that the documentation include the cause of death.
  • An employee taking leave under this new law is entitled to be restored to the position of employment held by the employee when the leave commenced or an equivalent position with equivalent employment benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment.
  • This new law does not extend the maximum period of leave to which an employee is entitled under the FMLA, or any other paid or unpaid leave provided under federal, state or local law, a collective bargaining agreement, or an employment benefits program or plan.

HB 3516 Illinois Employee Blood and Organ Donor Leave Act

Finally, HB 3516, amends the Illinois Employee Blood Donation Leave Act to add organ donation as a leave reason. An individual in Illinois employed full-time for at least 6 months for an employer with 51 or more employees may take up to 10 days of paid leave in any 12-month period to serve as an organ donor.

"Organ" is defined as "any biological tissue of the human body that may be donated by a living donor, including, but not limited to, the kidney, liver, lung, pancreas, intestine, bone, and skin or any subpart thereof."

Reliance Matrix Can Help!

Reliance Matrix offers employers federal and state leave administration services, including managing domestic violence, organ and blood donation and bereavement leave laws. For more information, contact your Reliance Matrix account manager or send us a message to [email protected].