Illinois Civil Union Partners Soon May Enjoy Greater Leave Rights Than Married Couples Under a Newly Proposed Illinois Family Medical Leave Act

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Illinois currently has no equivalent of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. Soon, it may. And unlike the FMLA, the proposed Illinois leave law would allow civil union partners the same leave entitlements currently enjoyed by married couples. Notably, because of the conflicting parameters of state and federal law, the proposed Illinois Family and Medical Leave Act, which recently hit the floor of Illinois House of Representatives, actually would afford civil union partners greater leave benefit rights than married couples.

Let me explain.

The Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act, which became law on June 1, 2011, provides that partners in a civil union are entitled to the same rights, benefits and privileges as those in traditional marriages. Under this Act, wherever the term "spouse" appears within any Illinois statute, it must be read to include "partners in a civil union."

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