There are many reasons why employees need a leave from work. Beginning this year, eligible employees in Illinois are entitled to a maximum of two weeks of unpaid leave for bereavement under the state’s Family Bereavement Leave Act. Knowing its requirements can help prevent employment litigation.
Eligible employees of all public and private employers with at least 50 employees may have up to 10 workdays of leave without pay for the following:
- A covered family member’s death
- Unsuccessful reproductive procedure
- Failed adoption match
- Adoptions that are contested and not finalized
- Failed surrogacy agreement
- A negative diagnosis impacting pregnancy or fertility
Employees can use their FBLA leave time to grieve or attend the funeral or memorial event of a covered family member. Leave may also be used to make plans for the death of a covered family member.
Legally, a covered family member is an employee’s child, stepchild, domestic partner, sibling, father- or mother-in-law, grandchild, grandparent, or stepparent. Employees may take up to six weeks of leave if they undergo more than one of these events within 12 months.
Employees must complete FBLA leave time within 60 days following the date the employee receives notice of the bereavement event. Employees have to provide at least 48 hours’ notice before taking this leave unless providing this notice is unreasonable or impracticable.
Employers can require employees to submit reasonable documents supporting FBLA leave. This may include a death certificate or published obituary.
Employers may not require an employee to disclose the specific event qualifying the employee for FBLA leave if they are seeking this leave after a loss or negative diagnosis involving pregnancy, surrogacy or adoption. Documentation for these circumstances may come from a health care practitioner, an adoption or surrogacy organization or the FBLA form on the Illinois Department of Labor’s website.
Employers covered by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act must comply with the FBLA’s leave time requirements. Employees of covered employers are eligible if they worked at least 1,250 hours of service with that employer during the preceding 12 months.
FBLA cannot be taken in addition to unpaid leave under the FMLA and may not exceed FMLA leave. But employers may provide additional leave in addition to the FMLA.