Under Expanded Illinois Kin Care Law, Employees Can Now Use Sick Leave Benefits for the “Personal Care” of a Family Member

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The Illinois Employee Sick Leave Act (“Act”) is what is known as a “kin care” law; i.e., it generally requires Illinois employers that provide paid or unpaid personal sick leave benefits to their employees to allow employees to use such leave to attend to a covered family member’s illness or injury, “on the same terms” as the employees would use their sick leave benefits for their own illness or injury. A “covered family member” means an employee’s “child, stepchild, spouse, domestic partner, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent, or stepparent.” The Act does not mandate that employers provide sick leave benefits; rather, it only expands the purposes for which employees may use such benefits, should the employer provide them.

Now, under an amendment to the Act, signed into law on April 27, 2021 by Governor J.B. Pritzker, the Act permits employees to use their personal sick leave benefits to attend to the “personal care” of a covered family member. The amendment defines “personal care” as “activities to ensure that a covered family member’s basic medical, hygiene, nutritional, or safety needs are met, or to provide transportation to medical appointments, for a covered family member who is unable to meet those needs himself or herself.” “Personal care” also includes “being physically present to provide emotional support to a covered family member with a serious health condition who is receiving inpatient or home care.”

As a reminder, the Act permits employers to limit the use of personal sick leave benefits for kin care to “an amount not less than the personal sick leave that would be earned or accrued during 6 months at the employee’s then current rate of entitlement.” Employers who calculate personal sick leave benefits on an employee’s years of service, instead of on annual or monthly accrual, may limit the amount of sick leave to be used for family members “to half of the employee’s maximum annual grant.”

Further, an employer’s kin care policy may require employees to provide written verification of the employee’s absence for kin care from a health care professional, as long as the employer requires such verification when employees use sick leave for absences due to their own illness or injury.

Illinois employers that provide sick leave benefits should ensure that their policies reflect this recent change in the law.

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