New “Kin Care” Allowance written into the Illinois Employee Sick Leave Act

The Illinois General Assembly recently sought to expand personal sick leave benefits provided by all Illinois employers, and on January 13, 2017, Governor Bruce Rauner signed a new amendment to the Illinois Employee Sick Leave Act. The new amendment makes room for a “kin care” allowance where employees are able to use personal sick leave benefits to care for not just themselves, but certain family members in addition. The amendment went into effect immediately. Below are major changes to the Act and answers to common questions that apply to the amendment.

What family members are covered under the new Illinois Employee Sick Leave Act?

Family members under the Act are the covered employee’s child, spouse, sibling, parent, mother in law, father in law, grandchild, grandparents, step parent, and newly added stepchildren and domestic partners.

What other key changes allowed under the amendment?

The new amended Act also now specifically states that employers may request written verification of the employee’s absence from a health care professional if such verification is required under the employer’s paid time off policy.

Who is covered for benefits under the Act?

All Illinois employers who provide personal sick leave benefits to their employees are covered by the Act.

If a company does not already provide personal sick leave benefits to employees, is it now required to do so?

No. The Act does not require employers to adopt sick leave policies if they do not already have them in place.

Do sick leave benefits include disability under the Act?

No, an employment benefit plan or paid time off policy does not include long term disability, short term disability, an insurance policy, or other comparable benefit plan or policy.

How does the amendment change bargaining agreements?

It does not. The new amendment adds a provision stating that the law does not interfere with collective bargaining agreements or a party’s power to collectively bargain such an agreement.

What ifan employer retaliates because of the Act?

Under the Act, an employer shall not deny an employee the right to use personal sick leave benefits in accordance with the Act or discharge, threaten to discharge, demote, suspend, or in any manner discriminate against an employee for using personal sick leave benefits.

An employee exercises rights under the Act by attempting to use personal sick leave benefits, filing a complaint with the Illinois Department of Labor (“IDOL”), alleging a violation of the Act, cooperating in an investigation or prosecution of an alleged violation of the Act, or opposing any policy or practice that is prohibited by the Act.

Please feel free to contact our employment team at Lowis and Gellen LLP with any questions about the Act or other workplace requirements.