doctor handing sick note

Illinois Employee Sick Leave Act Includes Care of Family Members

Personal sick leave is an extremely valuable benefit of a job as it allows employees to miss periods of work due to serious illness without worrying about losing their job for it. Under the Illinois Employee Sick Leave Act (ESLA), which was first enacted in 2017, Illinois employers are required to allow their employees to take personal sick leave for absences due to illness, injury, or medical appointments of covered family members. This includes the employee’s children, stepchildren, spouse, domestic partner, parent, stepparent, sibling, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandparent, and grandchild. However, the ESLA has been amended to cover even more.

New Amendment to the Illinois Employee Sick Leave Act (ESLA)

Effective as of April 27, 2021, the ESLA has been amended to require that employers in Illinois allow their employees to take personal sick leave for absences due to the “personal care of a covered family member.”

Under the newly amended ESLA, the act also covers “activities to ensure that a covered family member’s basic medical, hygiene, nutritional, or safety needs are met, or to provide transportation to medical appointments, for a covered family member who is unable to meet those needs himself or herself.” The amended act also covers “being physically present to provide emotional support to a covered family member with a serious health condition who is receiving inpatient or home care.” In other words, the ESLA now allows employees a much broader ability to take sick leave – not just for a sick or injured family member, but even for the care of a family member – whether sick or not. 

What Are Employers Still Entitled to Under the ESLA?

While the new addition to the ESLA is required of employers, they may still choose to limit the amount of personal sick leave days that can be used for the purpose of caring for a family member to half of the employee’s annual sick leave benefits. However, Illinois employers may not retaliate against employees who choose to exercise their rights under the ESLA. Rather, it’s imperative that employers in Illinois double-check their current sick leave policies to ensure that they comply with the new amended Act.

Additionally, those employers who have employees in Chicago and other covered jurisdictions in Cook County should also consider how the newly amended ESLA would play into their sick-leave policies under the Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance and the Chicago Paid Sick Leave Ordinance. 

The IL Employment Law Attorneys at ST Legal Group Can Help

If you believe that your employer has wrongfully terminated you or has retaliated against you due to you exercising your rights under the newly amended Illinois Employee Sick Leave Act, the attorneys at ST Legal Group can help. You should never be punished for exercising your legal rights. To learn more, or to schedule a consultation, contact us today!