In addition to the leave provided by your employer's discretionary policies on vacation time, sick leave, personal days, or paid time off (PTO), you may have a legal right to take time off work for specific reasons under federal and Illinois laws. For example, if you are caring for an ailing family member or recovering from childbirth, you may have a right to leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Illinois law provides additional leave rights, including the right to time off for military family leave, pregnancy disability, domestic violence, and more.
This article provides an overview of your right to time off from work in Illinois. For more information, see our page on employee leave rights.
Illinois Laws on Family and Medical Leave
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives eligible employees the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year to care for a seriously ill family member (spouse, parent, or child), recuperate from their own serious health conditions, bond with a new child, or handle certain practical matters arising from a family member's military service. The FMLA also requires employers to give employees up to 26 weeks off to care for a family member who suffered or exacerbated a serious illness or injury while serving in the military. (For purposes of this military family leave provision only, employees may take leave to care for a wider set of family members, including siblings, grandparents, and cousins, if they are next of kin to an injured service member.)
The FMLA applies to employers in all states with at least 50 employees. Employees are eligible only if they have worked for the employer for at least 12 months and have worked 1,250 hours in the 12 months before taking leave. (Learn much more about your rights under the FMLA at our Taking Family and Medical Leave page.)
Some states have created laws that provide employees with leave for family and medical reasons. Sometimes these laws overlap with the FMLA and don't create additional rights. Often, however, state law applies to a wider set of employers, has more relaxed eligibility requirements for employees, or covers a broader set of family members. In Illinois, employees have the right to take time off for pregnancy disability, military family leave, and a child's school activities.
Illinois Laws on Military Leave
Another federal law, the Unformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) gives eligible employees the right to be reinstated to their jobs after taking up to five years off for service in the U.S. military. (Find out all about USERRA in Nolo's article, Taking Military Leave.) Employers may not discriminate against employees based on their military service. And, employees may be fired only for good cause for a period of up to one year after they return from service, even if they would otherwise work at will. (See Employment At Will: What Does It Mean? to learn more.)
The laws of many states extend similar rights to employees who serve in the state's military, including the right to take time off from work and to be reinstated afterwards. In Illinois, National Guard members who are called to active state duty by order of the governor are entitled to unpaid leave, with reinstatement when they return from service. Upon reinstatement, employees may not be fired without cause for one year. Employees who quit their jobs to enter military service are entitled to job restoration after receiving an honorable discharge.
Illinois Laws on Time Off for Voting
Illinois law gives employees the right to take time off work, without fear of retaliation, for the civic responsibility of voting. Employees must be allowed to take up to two hours off, with pay, to vote. The employer may decide when these hours are taken, but must provide the employee with a two-hour absence during work, if the employee doesn't have two consecutive hours off before starting or after ending a shift while the polls are open.
Illinois Laws on Time Off for Jury Duty
Employers must also allow employees to take time off to serve on a jury. Employers may not take away employees' seniority or benefits because they are serving on a jury, nor may an employer require employees to work the night shift when they have served on a jury duty during the day.
Time off to serve on a jury is unpaid. However, special rules apply to exempt employees. Under federal law, employers typically cannot deduct an exempt, salaried employee's pay for time spent serving on a jury, unless the employee did no work for the entire week. For more information, see our article on pay docking.
Illinois Laws on Domestic Violence Leave
In Illinois, employers with at least 50 employees must give employees who are victims of domestic violence or sexual violence time off to:
Employees are entitled to this leave if they have worked for at least 12 months and have been victims of domestic or sexual violence, or have a family or household member who is a victim of domestic or sexual violence. Employees may take up to 12 weeks off in a 12-month period; the law states that it does not intend to create rights beyond those provided by the federal FMLA.