Illinois expands bereavement leave for employees whose child dies by suicide, homicide


The state is on a roll with leave enhancements

On the heels of changes to the Victims' Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA), Illinois recently expanded the reasons employees may take bereavement leave.

The new state bereavement law applies to employers with at least 50 employees and takes effect on January 1, 2024.

Illinois bereavement law details

The Child Extended Bereavement Leave Act (CEBLA) — or Zachary's Parent Protection Act — will entitle full-time employees who have worked for a company for at least two weeks to unpaid, job-protected leave due to the loss of a child by suicide or homicide.

How much leave employees may take depends upon the size of the employer:

  • Employees of small employers (those with 50 – 250 full-time employees in Illinois) may take up to six weeks of unpaid leave.
  • Employees of large employers (those with 250 or more full-time employees in Illinois) may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave.

Under this law, the term “child" means an employee's biological, adopted, or foster child. It also includes a stepchild, legal ward, or child of a person standing in loco parentis (i.e., in place of a parent).

Scheduling leave

Employees may take bereavement leave in a single continuous period or intermittently. If an employee takes intermittent leave, it cannot be less than four hours at a time.

Employers may require an employee to give reasonable advance notice about taking bereavement leave, unless it’s not practicable.

Employees must complete the leave within one year after the employee notifies the employer of the loss. This would be a measured forward basis, but the leave year begins only when the employee notifies the employer.

Requesting documentation

Employers may require employees to provide reasonable documentation, such as a:

  • Death certificate,
  • Published obituary, or
  • Written verification of death, burial, or memorial services.

The verification must be from a mortuary, funeral home, burial society, crematorium, religious institution, or government agency. Employers may require that the documentation include the cause of death.

Maximum amount of leave

The CEBLA does not extend the maximum period of leave employees may take under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, or any other paid or unpaid leave provided under federal, state, or local law, a collective bargaining agreement, or an employment benefits plan.

Also, employees who take leave under the CEBLA may not take additional leave under the Illinois Family Bereavement Act for the death of the same child.

Key to Remember: Employers with employees in Illinois will need to be aware of these bereavement leave law changes and might need to update company policies.

This article was written by Darlene M. Clabault, SHRM-CP, PHR, CLMS, of J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc. The content of these news items, in whole or in part, MAY NOT be copied into any other uses without consulting the originator of the content.


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