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State of Illinois Amends New Employee Sick Leave Act

Labor & Employment Alert Brian A. Hartstein, Matthew A. Sloan

On January 1, 2017, the Illinois Employee Sick Leave Act went into effect. The Act requires businesses to revise any existing sick leave policies (to the extent an employer has such policies) to include as a permissible reason for leave, medical care for various types of family members. For more information about the general requirements of the Act and the sick leave ordinances soon to take effect in the City of Chicago and Cook County, please see our prior client alert.   

On January 13, 2017, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law an Amendment to the Act clarifying portions of the law's application and providing limitations to its coverage. The Amendment provides the following changes and clarifications to the law.

  • Family Members - Clarifies that step-children and domestic partners, in addition to the numerous other types of identified relationships, constitute covered family members for whom an employee can use sick leave benefits.
  • Excludes Insurance Plans - Limits the scope of the Act to only personal sick leave benefits available to an employee through an employment benefit plan or paid time off policy. This clarifies that benefit plans and paid time policies covered by the Act do not include long term disability, short term disability, insurance policies, or other comparable plans or policies.
  • Limitations on Written Verification - Limits an employer's ability to request written verification of the employee's absence from a health care professional. This change requires that employers must explicitly indicate in their sick leave or paid time off policies that verification may be required in order to later request that information from an employee's health care professional.
  • Clarifies Limitations on Use of Family Member Leave - Clarifies employers' ability to limit sick time used for family members. While the original Act allowed employers to limit use of sick leave for qualifying family members to half of all time that might accrue over a given year, the Amendment clarifies that employers can limit the amount of paid time used for absences related to the health of family members to half of an employee's sick time, regardless of whether earned on an accrual or lump sum basis.

Finally, the Amendment also exempts certain employers and employees from the Act's application, including any employee or employer:

  • Covered under a current or future collective bargaining agreement;
  • Subject to Title II of the Railway Labor Act (RLA);
  • Covered by the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act (RUIA); or
  • Covered by the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA)

The Amendment also gives the Illinois Department of Labor the discretion to exempt other categories of employers and employees from the Act through the adoption of future regulations.

If you have questions, please contact Brian Hartstein at brian.hartstein@quarles.com/(312) 715-5211, Matthew Sloan at matthew.sloan@quarles.com/(312) 715-5223 or your Quarles & Brady attorney.