One employment trend gaining traction recently is mandatory paid sick leave benefits for employees. A number of municipalities, including Chicago, and a handful of states have passed laws requiring employers of a certain size to provide paid sick leave days to their workers. Now the state of Illinois is joining in on the subject by mandating permissible uses of paid sick leave benefits.
Effective January 1, 2017 the Employee Sick Leave Act (P.A. 099-0841) ensures that employees may use sick leave benefits for not only their own personal medical needs, but also for the illness, injury or medical appointments of a broad spectrum of family members. While the Act does not itself require employers to provide paid sick leave, it does require employers who do provide that benefit to allow employees to use that leave time for absences resulting from the illness, injury or medical appointments of the employee’s child, spouse, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent or stepparent.
The Act also provides that the benefit use for family members must be reasonable and “on the same terms upon which the employee is able to use sick leave for the employee’s own illness or injury.” Although employers now must extend the permissible use of sick leave benefits to family members, they can limit the number of days used for this purpose to half of that which the employee accrues in a year (not half of which has been accrued in that year). Additionally, the Act specifically states that it does not extend the amount of sick leave benefits granted, nor does it extend the maximum leave allowable under FMLA.
Employers who grant sick leave to their workers should ensure that their sick leave policy conforms to this new law no later than the first of the year.