Recently, Illinois became the second state – after Oregon – to officially mandate that employers provide their employees time off to grieve the loss of a family member. The Illinois Child Bereavement Leave Act (CBLA) took effect immediate effect upon Governor Bruce Rauner’s signature on July 29, 2016. The law permits employees who have suffered the loss of a child with up to two weeks (10 work days) of unpaid leave to:
- to attend the funeral or an alternative to a funeral
- to make arrangements necessitated by the death of a child
- to grieve the death of a child
The Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) has been in place since 2014 and it also allows employees to take up to two weeks of job-protected leave when a family member passes away to make funeral arrangements, attend the funeral, or to grieve the family member’s death.
There are some differences between the two states’ laws. The OFLA applies to employers with 25 or more employees. The CBLA covers employers with 50 or more employees. Under the OFLA, employees are eligible after a length of service of 180 days whereas the CBLA requires 12 months and 1,250 hours of service. The CBLA allows leave for the loss of the employee’s biological or legal child or a child with whom the employee acted in loco parentis. In contrast, the OFLA permits bereavement leave for any “family member,” which includes spouses or same sex partners, their parents and children, a grandparent or grandchild of the employee, or a person with whom the employee acted in loco parentis.
In most states, bereavement is still considered “benefit” that is sometimes provided by a business under a policy or by agreement. The laws in Illinois and Oregon may be suggestive of a future trend. In the coming years, bereavement bills are likely to gain momentum on both the state and federal level.