In a year filled with more robust protections and benefits to workers, Illinois has passed a new law, the Employee Sick Leave Act, which now allows employees more flexibility to use their accrued sick time. Starting January 01, 2017, any employer that provides paid sick time to their staff must allow employees to use the time to take care of sick family members.
The Act’s language states “personal sick leave benefits” that provide paid time off for an illness, injury or medical appointment may now be used by the employee to care for their child, spouse, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent, or stepparent for the same circumstances.
Although the law is a significant step forward for workers’ rights, there are limitations to the Act that both employees and employers should be aware of. First and foremost, the Act does not mandate employers offer paid time to their workers for injury, illness, or a medical appointment. Only those businesses already offering paid sick time must comply with the act.
Second, employers can limit the amount of time employees can use towards the care of a sick or injured relative. Employers may choose to limit the employee’s time off to care for a family member to only half of their total sick leave.
Furthermore, the Act does not extend the amount of time employees can take off under the Family Medical Leave Act, which already gives unpaid time off to employees to care for family members. Employers who already provide paid time off to care for family members will not need to make any changes to the policies already in place.
Employers need to be aware the Act has anti-retaliation provisions to protect workers. The act makes it illegal to retaliate against or intimidate workers who choose to exercise their rights under the Illinois Employee Sick Act.
Additionally, businesses cannot retaliate against workers alleging violations of the Act or cooperate in any investigations looking into alleged violations. This includes filing complaints with the Illinois Department of Labor.
Whether you are an employee or employer, the Cook County employment lawyers of Goldman & Ehrlich can help you with your employment law issues. Contact us online or call our office at 312.332.6733 for a consultation about your case and let us put our experience to work for you.