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Illinois passes family caregiver leave law

August 23, 2016
by Pamela Tabar, Editor-in-Chief
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Starting January 1, 2017, businesses in Illinois will have to allow employees to use their accrued personal sick leave benefits gathered for up to a six-month period for the purposes of caring for a family member. That includes senior care facilities, where employees may be caring for residents on the job and family members at home.

House Bill 6162, signed into law this week, includes a broad definition of "family member" that includes a child, spouse, sibling, parent, grandparent, step-parent or even parent-in-law. The law also specifically prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who use the accrued sick leave for family caregiving.

"Too often family caregivers are balancing a full-time job and trying to care for their loved one, from an elderly parent needing in-home care after surgery or transportation to and from chemotherapy treatments," said AARP Illinois State Director Bob Gallo in an AARP support statement. "For businesses, the new law will improve employee morale by fostering a business climate of support and flexibility for valued employees.  A working caregiver will find greater balance as they continue to contribute to their workplace without the stress of reducing hours or even quitting their job to care for a loved one."

Four other states (California, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Oregon) and the District of Columbia have laws in place that guarantee employee’s rights to earn and use accrued sick days for family care as well as their own care, notes the Journal of the American Society on Aging.