Like employers in every state, Illinois employers must comply with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which allows eligible employees to take unpaid leave, with the right to reinstatement, for certain reasons.
Illinois law gives employees additional leave rights, as explained below. Employees are entitled to the protections of all applicable laws; if more than one law applies, the employee may use the most beneficial provisions.
Federal FMLA Rights
Illinois employees who are eligible may take up to 12 weeks of leave for serious health conditions, bonding with a new child, or preparation for a family member's military service; more leave is available for employees who need to care for a family member who was seriously injured on active military duty. For detailed information on FMLA leave, see Taking Family and Medical Leave.
Who Is Covered?
Employers in Illinois must follow the FMLA if they have at least 50 employees for at least 20 weeks in the current or previous year.
Employees are eligible for FMLA leave if:
- they have worked for the company for at least a year
- they worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous year, and
- they work at a location with at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.
Reasons for Leave
FMLA leave is available if an employee needs time off to:
- recuperate from a serious health condition
- care for a family member with a serious health condition
- bond with a new child
- handle qualifying exigencies arising out of a family member’s military service, or
- care for a family member who suffered a serious injury during active duty in the military. (You can find more information on these last two types of leave in Military Family Leave for Employees.)
How Much Leave Is Available?
Illinois employees may take up to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period for a serious health condition, bonding with a new child, or qualifying exigencies. This leave is available every 12 months, as long as the employee continues to meet the eligibility requirements explained above.
Employees may take up to 26 weeks of leave in a single 12-month period for military caregiver leave. However, this is a per-injury, per-service member entitlement. Unless the same family member is injured again, or another family member suffers an injury while on active duty, an employee may not take additional leave for this purpose.
Leave and Reinstatement Rights
Employees are entitled to continue their health insurance while on leave, at the same cost they must pay while working. FMLA leave is unpaid, but employees may be allowed (or required) to use their accrued paid leave during FMLA leave.
When an employee’s FMLA leave ends, the employee is entitled to be reinstated to the same or an equivalent position, with a few exceptions.
Illinois Family and Medical Leave Laws
In addition to the rights granted by the FMLA, Illinois employees are protected by several state laws providing time off for family and medical reasons.
Illinois Military Family Leave
Employers with at least 15 employees must allow eligible employees to take time off to spend time with a spouse or child while that person’s federal or state deployment orders are in effect. The amount of leave available depends on the size of the employer:
- Employers with at least 50 employees must provide up to 30 days of unpaid leave.
- Smaller employers must provide up to 15 days of unpaid leave.
Illinois Domestic Violence Leave
Illinois employers with at least 50 employees must allow eligible employees who are victims of domestic or sexual violence, or who have a family or household member who is a victim of domestic or sexual violence, to take up to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period to:
- seek medical treatment
- obtain services from a victim services organization
- get counseling
- engage in safety planning, relocate, or otherwise take steps to increase the victim’s safety, or
- seek legal assistance or remedies.
The law states that it does not intend to create rights beyond those provided by the federal FMLA.
Small Necessities Law
Illinois Employers with at least 50 employees must allow eligible employees to take up to eight hours of unpaid leave in any school year, with no more than four hours taken in one day, to attend school conferences or classroom activities relating to their children, if they cannot be rescheduled outside of work hours.
For More Information
You can find information on these laws at the website of the Illinois Department of Labor.