Illinois Employee Sick Leave Act Updates To Add Employer Clarification

Changes to the Sick Leave Act Signed into Effect Weeks after its Implementation

The Illinois Sick Leave Act, which was passed in 2016, and took effect on January 1, 2017 requires employers who offer sick leave to allow employees time to also care for family members. While the act does not require employers to provide sick leave, paid or unpaid, it does require that up to half of the awarded also be allowed for family member illness.

However, parts of the new law were vague and failed to address questions that many employers asked. As a result, less than 2 weeks after the law went into effect, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed amendments to the law into effect. The purpose of this article is to highlight the changes to the Illinois Sick Leave Law. For a comprehensive overview of the entire law, please check out our article on the Illinois Sick Leave Act, which has been updated to reflect these changes.

Defining Sick Leave

The new amendment clarifies the definition of sick leave to include both paid and unpaid time off that the employer offers to the employee that covers an absence from work due to the employee’s illness, personal injury, or medical appointment. This includes Paid Time Off (PTO) that can be used for the employee’s own illness. The new clarifications also specify that the law excludes insurance plans such as short term disability, long term disability, and other insurance policies are not included in the law. Further, employees are able to take time for a family member for the same terms that they are allowed to use for themselves.  

Allowed Family Members Added

Under the original Sick Leave Act, Spouses, Children, Parents, including step parents, and parents in laws, siblings, grandparents and grandchildren were included for sick leave use. However, the new changes also adds stepchildren into the list of allowed family members and clarifies that domestic partners are included in the act. Domestic partners were previously added to one section of the Act, but were omitted in another section. The new changes clarify this.

Clarification on the Types of Sick Leave Awarded

The updated Illinois Sick Leave Act also clarifies that up to half of the total time awarded to employees can be used for family member purposes. This includes not only half of the time that employees accrue through the year, but also applies to employees who are awarded sick leave upfront. When employees are awarded sick leave based on years of service, use of sick time for family members can be limited to half of their awarded amount.

Written Verification Clarified

Language was added to clarify that an employer may require sick leave verification for a family member if their employment policies also require verification for the employee’s sick leave usage. It also limits sick leave verification to a health care professional. However, employers in Cook County and Chicago will need to manage policies as both sick leave ordinances only require verification of sick leave usage after 3 or more consecutive days of sick leave use.

Excluded Employees Defined

A new section was added to The Act, which defines excluded employees. Employees who are considered excluded include union workers, those who are covered by a collective bargaining act. Additionally, employees who are subject to Title II of the Railway Labor Act are excluded. Employees and employers who are defined in the Federal Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act or the Federal Employers’ Liability Act, as well as any other similar act are also included. Lastly, any other employment that the Illinois Department of Labor exempts under law.

Overlapping Sick Leave Laws in Cook County and Chicago.

These changes serve to clarify and add definition to the original Illinois Employee Sick Leave Act. Employers who are in Cook County and in or around Chicago will need to manage compliance with up to 3 sick leave laws. Chicago has its own sick leave ordinance and Cook County passed a county-wide law only months after Chicago. Even so, several municipalities within Cook County have already opted out of the county sick leave ordinance. This can create an overlapping of sick leave ordinances and laws for employers in that part of the state.

Let SwipeClock Help

It can be difficult for employers to manage the timekeeping and records requirements of the multiple sick leave laws. SwipeClock provides an array of workforce management and time tracking tools that help businesses to stay compliant with local, state and federal employment laws more easily. Records are automatically kept for years and accrual is tracked and reported to employees according to state and local laws.

Written by Annemaria Duran. Last updated April 24, 2017

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