A little over a year ago, in Dynak v. Board of Education of Wooddale School District 7, the Illinois Supreme Court put to rest the argument about the timing of paid sick leave related to the birth of a child under Section 24-6 of the Illinois School Code – holding that school districts could restrict the use of paid sick leave for the birth of a child to the period immediately following the birth. In so holding, the Court noted that there was no indication that the legislature intended sick leave for “birth” to operate differently from sick leave taken for any other reason. In passing HB 816 over the weekend, the Illinois legislature has made its intent clear concerning new parents’ rights to use paid sick leave under Section 24-6.
If signed by the Governor, HB 816 would permit eligible school employees to use up to 30 days of paid sick leave for the birth of a child at any time during the 12-month period following the child’s birth even after an intervening period of non-working days or school not being in session. It expressly states that “the use of up to 30 working school days of paid sick leave because of the birth of a child may not be diminished as a result of any intervening period of nonworking days or school not being in session, such as for summer, winter or spring break or holidays, that may occur during the use of the paid sick leave.” HB 816 also extends the definition of sick leave to include “acceptance of a child in need of foster care,” in addition to adoption or placement of adoption. HB 816 further states that the 30 days of paid sick leave need not be used consecutively.
HB 816 is expected to be signed by the Governor and will be effective immediately upon becoming law. Thus, if signed over the summer, HB 816 may require school districts’ immediate attention to the extent teachers or other eligible employees seek to use sick leave at the start of the 2021-2022 school year. To prepare, school boards should begin reviewing with legal counsel the potential immediate impact of HB 816 on their fall planning, as well as on any Board policies or collective bargaining agreements that may contain language contrary to HB 816.