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Labor & Employment Alert >> New Illinois Child Bereavement Leave Act Provides Two Weeks of Unpaid Leave

September 14, 2016

On July 29, 2016, the Child Bereavement Leave Act (CBLA) went into effect in Illinois.

The CBLA requires Illinois employers with at least 50 employees to provide eligible employees up to two weeks – 10 work days – of unpaid bereavement leaves to: (1) attend the funeral or alternative to a funeral of a child; (2) make arrangements necessitated by the death of a child; or (3) grieve the death of a child. Eligible employees are those who are eligible for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), namely employees who have been employed by the employer for at least 12 months and who have worked at least 1,250 hours within the 12-month period preceding the leave.

Bereavement leave under the CBLA must be completed within 60 days after the date on which the employee receives notice of the death of the child. Eligible employees are required to provide the employer with at least 48 hours’ advance notice of the employee’s intention to take bereavement leave, unless providing such notice is not reasonable and practicable.

Employers may require reasonable documentation before granting leave under the CBLA, which may include a death certificate, a published obituary, or written verification of death, burial or memorial services from a mortuary, funeral home, burial society, crematorium, religious institution or government agency. In the event of the death of more than one child in a 12-month period, an employee is entitled to up to a total of six weeks of bereavement leave during the 12-month period.

The CBLA specifies that employees may substitute paid or unpaid leave under other employer policies (such as paid vacation or sick time) for child bereavement leave. And the CBLA provides that it does not create a right for an employee to take unpaid leave that exceeds or is in addition to the unpaid leave permitted by the FMLA. The CBLA prohibits employers from taking adverse actions against employees for exercising their rights under the law, opposing a practice that the employee believes to be in violation of the law, or supporting the exercise of bereavement leave rights by another employee. Aggrieved employees have the right to file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Labor or file a civil lawsuit, but either must be done within 60 days after the date of the last event constituting the alleged violation for which the action is brought. Employers who violate the CBLA may face civil fines not to exceed $500 for the first offense, and $1,000 thereafter.

The Bottom Line

Illinois employers with at least 50 employees should update their leave policies to provide this new child bereavement leave as required by the CBLA.


Labor & Employment