By Gillian B. LeporeMeg Toth, and Sara Eber Fowler

Seyfarth Synopsis: Illinois recently amended its Child Bereavement Leave Act to expand the reasons for leave, including miscarriage and stillbirth, and adds additional covered family members.  The law will now be called the “Family Bereavement Leave Act” and goes into effect on January 1, 2023. 

On June 9, 2022, Governor Pritzker signed the Family Bereavement Leave Act (“FBLA”) into law, amending the Child Bereavement Leave Act (“CBLA”).  As the name change suggests, the FBLA expands the scope of the CBLA by expanding the availability of unpaid bereavement leave to cover additional family members and reasons for leave.

While bereavement leave was previously only available (under the CBLA) for the death of a child, the FBLA provides for bereavement leave for the death of a “covered family member,” which now includes an employee’s:

  • Child
  • Stepchild
  • Spouse
  • Domestic partner
  • Sibling
  • Parent or step-parent
  • Mother-in-law or father-in-law
  • Grandchild
  • Grandparent

Effective January 1, 2023, employers with 50 or more employees must provide unpaid leave to employees to:

  • Attend the funeral or alternative to a funeral of a covered family member;
  • Make arrangements necessitated by the death of the covered family member;
  • Grieve the death of the covered family member; or
  • Be absent from work due to (i) a miscarriage; (ii) an unsuccessful round of intrauterine insemination or of an assisted reproductive technology procedure; (iii) a failed adoption match or an adoption that is not finalized because it is contested by another party; (iv) a failed surrogacy agreement; (v) a diagnosis that negatively impacts pregnancy or fertility; or (vi) a stillbirth.

Consistent with the CBLA, leave under the FBLA must be completed within 60 days of the date on which the employee receives notice of the death of the covered family member or the date on which an otherwise qualifying event occurs.  Employees are still entitled to 10 work days of unpaid leave.  In the event of the death of more than one covered family member in a 12-month period, an employee is entitled to up to 6 weeks of bereavement leave during that period.

Like the CBLA, employees are only eligible to take leave under the FBLA if they are also an eligible employee under the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”).  Eligibility under the FMLA requires 12 months of employment, at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months, and work at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles.  The FBLA does not create a right for an employee to take unpaid leave that exceeds the unpaid leave time allowed under the FMLA.

An employer may require reasonable documentation for leave under the FBLA, but for leave resulting from miscarriage, stillbirth, failed adoption or other pregnancy related loss, the employer may not require that the employee identify which category of event the leave pertains to. The Illinois Department of Labor will be publishing a model form to be used by employers requesting documentation from employees taking leave for these reasons that complies with the FBLA.

What Steps Should Employers Take?

Employers should review and revise company bereavement leave policies for compliance with the FBLA’s requirements before January 1, 2023, and train managers and appropriate HR/leave professionals about the changes to this law impacting Illinois employees.

We will continue to monitor and provide updates on any developments as the FBLA’s effective date approaches. With the leave landscape continuing to rapidly expand, we encourage companies to reach out to the authors, a member of the Workplace Counseling Team or their Seyfarth contact for solutions and recommendations for addressing compliance with applicable requirements.