Illinois State Laws on Taking Leave From Work Due to Domestic Violence

Illinois law recognizes that employees may find it difficult to work when they are worried about their own safety and the safety of their children.

If you work in Illinois and have been a victim of domestic violence, you have the right to take some time off work to seek medical care, get legal help, and meet other needs relating to the violence. Illinois also prohibits employers from discriminating against you based on your status as a victim of domestic violence, and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations that will help you do your job safely. We explain these rights below.

If you share a computer or phone plan with your abuser, put your safety and the safety of your family members first. Remember, your abuser may have access to your phone records and Internet search history. It might make sense to research your rights and engage in safety planning on a public computer or using a friend’s phone. Especially if you are planning to leave your abuser, you won’t want to leave a trail that will allow him to find you.

Who the Law Protects

Illinois’s domestic violence leave law applies to all employers, although the amount of leave you are allowed to take depends on your employer’s size. You are protected by the law if you are a victim of domestic or sexual violence, or if you have a family or household member who is a victim of domestic or sexual violence. Leave is available whether you work part time or full time.

Telling Your Employer

Illinois law requires employees who want to take domestic violence leave to give notice to their employers at least 48 hours ahead of time. If that isn’t practical (for example, because of a violent incident), your employer may not take action against you for failing to give notice, as long as you provide documentation of your leave, if requested, within a reasonable period of your absence.

Whether or not you are able to give notice, your employer may ask you to provide documentation that you or your family or household member are facing domestic violence, and that you took time off for one of the reasons allowed by the law. This documentation is called “certification.” You may meet the certification requirement by providing your own sworn statement and, once you receive one of the following:

  • documentation from a social services center, a lawyer, a medical professional or other professional, or a member of the clergy from whom you or your family member sought services
  • a police report or court record, or
  • other evidence corroborating your sworn statement.

Taking Time Off for Domestic Violence

You may take leave from work for these reasons relating to domestic violence against you or a family or household member:

  • to recover from physical or psychological injuries or to seek treatment for them
  • to get services from a victim services organization
  • for psychological or other counseling
  • to participate in safety planning, relocate, or take other steps to increase your safety or economic security, or
  • to seek legal assistance or appear in court or other proceedings.

If you have accrued paid time off (such as vacation time, sick days, PTO, or annual leave), you may use it during your domestic violence leave, if you wish. However, your employer may not require you to use up your other leave.

Amount of Time Off for Domestic Violence

How much time you may take off depends on the size of your employer. If your employer has fewer than 15 employees, you may take up to four weeks off in a 12-month period. If your employer has 15 to 49 employees, you may take up to eight weeks off in a 12-month period. If your employer has 50 or more employees, you may take up to 12 weeks off in the same timeframe.

Reasonable Accommodations for Domestic Violence

All Illinois employers, regardless of size, must provide reasonable accommodations to employees who are, or have family or household members who are, victims of domestic violence. Reasonable accommodations are changes to the job, schedule, workplace, policies, and so on, that are made in response to actual or threatened domestic or sexual violence. They include:

  • time off
  • transfer or reassignment
  • schedule changes
  • changing your telephone number
  • changing your physical location in the workplace
  • installing locks
  • implementing safety plans and procedures, and
  • assistance in documenting violent incidents that happen at work.

Confidentiality Rules

Employees often worry that their employer might retaliate against them for requesting time off. However, the law prohibits employers from firing, demoting, suspending, or otherwise discriminating against employees because they need domestic violence leave.

You may also be concerned that your coworkers will learn painful personal details about your private life, or worse, that your abuser will learn you are taking time off to seek legal protection or relocate. The law requires your employer to keep all records and information about your leave, including your certification documents, confidential. They may disclose these documents only if required by state or federal law or if you request or consent to it, in writing.

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