New Illinois Laws Provide Unpaid Leave for Grieving Workers Affected by Violent Crimes and Tragedy

Springfield, Illinois – Two new laws have been implemented across the state, granting workers the right to take unpaid leave in the unfortunate event of a family member’s death due to violent crime. This marks a significant step towards providing support and compassion to employees during times of grieving.

The first law expands the scope of the Victim’s Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA) by requiring businesses of all sizes to offer two weeks of unpaid and job-protected leave if a household family member falls victim to a violent crime. This ensures that employees can take the necessary time off without fearing the loss of their jobs.

Additionally, another law, known as Zachary’s Parent Protection Act and the Child Extended Bereavement Leave Act (CEBLA), goes even further to support parents who have tragically lost their children to violent crimes or suicide. Businesses with more than 250 employees are mandated to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave, while those with 50-249 employees must grant parents six weeks of leave. Smaller businesses with fewer than 50 employees are exempt from this law.

State Representative Maurice West, who sponsored the legislation in the state House, expressed the significance of these new laws for grieving parents. He stated, “Those grieving parents will know that the State of Illinois will be there for them as they grieve the loss of their child.”

Opponents of the legislation raised concerns about the potential burden it may place on businesses, as well as the argument that it may prioritize certain types of tragedies over others. State Senator Jil Tracy expressed this sentiment, questioning the need to single out a specific loss when many other forms of significant loss occur in people’s lives every day.

Under CEBLA, grieving parents have up to one year to make use of their leave entitlement. They are not required to take all of their leave at once, as they can take it in increments as small as four hours. Additionally, businesses with a minimum of 50 employees must also grant at least two weeks of unpaid leave under the state’s Family Bereavement Leave Act (FBLA) in the event of the death of a close family member, regardless of the cause of death. It’s important to note that if an employee takes leave under FBLA, they are not eligible for leave under VESSA.

These new laws in Illinois signify a significant step towards supporting workers who experience the devastating loss of a family member due to violent crime. By guaranteeing unpaid leave and job protection, these measures provide some comfort and relief during their time of grief.