Illinois expands leave reasons for victims of violent crime


Victim’s Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA) changes go into effect January 1

On July 28, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed HB2493, which amends the state’s Victim’s Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA). The changes include expanding the reasons for which employees may take leave under the law.

VESSA provides leave for employees in Illinois who are victims of, or who have family or household members who are victims of:

  • Domestic violence,
  • Sexual violence,
  • Gender violence, or
  • Any other crime of violence.

Amount of leave

The total amount of leave employers must provide under VESSA relate to the number of employees they have:

  • Employers with 1 – 14 employees need to provide up to four workweeks of leave during any 12-month period.
  • Employers 15 – 49 employees must provide up to eight workweeks of leave during any 12-month period.
  • Employers with 50 or more employees must provide up to a total of 12 workweeks of leave during any 12-month period.

Qualifying reasons for leave today

Currently under VESSA, employees in Illinois may take unpaid leave to:

  • Seek medical attention for, or recovery from, physical or psychological injuries caused by the violence;
  • Obtain victim services;
  • Obtain psychological or other counseling;
  • Participate in safety planning, including temporary or permanent relocation or other actions to increase the safety of the victim from future domestic or sexual violence; or
  • Seek legal assistance to ensure the health and safety of the victim, including participating in court proceedings related to the violence.

New, additional leave reasons

As of January 1, 2024, if a family or household member is killed in a crime of violence employees in Illinois may also take up to two weeks of leave to:

  • Attend the funeral, funeral alternative, or wake;
  • Make arrangements necessitated by the death; or
  • Grieve the death.

Employees must complete the two weeks of leave within 60 days after the date on which the employee receives notice of the victim’s death.

VESSA does not entitle employees who take leave under the Illinois Family Bereavement Leave Act, to more leave.

Documents supporting leave

To document that a victim was killed in a violent crime, employees in Illinois who request leave under VESSA may give employers copies of 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.

Employers may request only one document during the same 12-month period.

Key to Remember: As of January 1, 2024, employers with employees in Illinois must provide leave under VESSA for additional reasons. Employers should prepare for this change by reviewing and updating related 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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