Illinois Considers Paid Family Leave Insurance Program – Workers’ Compensation

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What you should Know:

  • The Illinois House recently introduced legislation that would create a statewide paid family leave insurance program.
  • The legislation would provide eligible Illinois employees with up to 12 weeks of leave in a 24-month period to be used for time off necessary for family and medical reasons, including pregnancy, the employee’s health condition, to bond with a child, or to caring for a family member.
  • The program will be administered through IDES and funded through employee payroll contributions.

As the new year approaches, the Illinois Legislature is considering additional ways to provide employees with paid vacation benefits. Days after passing the Paid Leave for All Workers Act, the House introduced Illinois House Bill 1102 – to implement a statewide family leave insurance program through the Illinois Department of Employment Security (“IDES”).

Eligible employees may take up to 12 weeks of family leave within a 24-month period for (1) pregnancy; (2) be with a newborn, newly adopted, or newly placed foster child; (3) for adoption; (4) to care for a family member with a serious health condition; (5) for a serious health condition of the employee himself; or (6) certain military requirements. Employees can receive 85% of their average salary, up to $881 a week in compensation. The bill will take effect as soon as it becomes law.

The main provisions of the bill are the following:

  • Eligibility of employees: Persons working in Illinois (other than those working for the state), employed by the same employer for 12 months or more, who worked 1,200 or more hours during the preceding 12-month period, would be protected by the bill.
  • Employer Coverage: Employers are broadly defined as any kind partnership, association, trust, estate, stock company, insurance company, or corporation that has at least one employee providing services in Illinois, and any employer subject to the Unemployment Insurance Act.
  • Duration of leave: Up to twelve weeks of family leave in any 24-month period will be granted to eligible employees. Family leave may be taken intermittently for qualifying conditions, except that leave following a birth or adoption must be for a continuous period of time, unless the employer agrees to it. Family leave will run concurrently with any FMLA leave. Employers may also require family leave to be taken concurrently with other employer leave policies, after notifying employees.
  • Note: If an employee’s need for family leave is foreseeable, he must give the employer at least 30 days’ advance notice. Otherwise, notice must be given as soon as possible. Employees will also be required to make reasonable efforts to schedule foreseeable treatments so that business operations are not unduly disrupted.
  • Leave Benefits: Eligible employees will receive 85% of their average weekly wage, with a maximum of $881 in compensation per week. The bill includes, by reference to the Unemployment Insurance Act, the determination of the average weekly wage.
  • State aid fund: To cover the cost of the IDES-administered leave insurance, employers will be required to retain a 0.5% wage premium cut from all employees to be directed to the newly created state benefits fund. Located in the State Treasury, the compensation fund will be used to pay leave benefits and administer the law.
  • Collective labor agreements: If passed, the bill would not affect existing collective bargaining agreements. The bill states that its benefits cannot be reduced by a collective bargaining agreement entered into after the bill’s effective date. But it also states that once the bill goes into effect, its requirements can be waived in a collective bargaining agreement if specifically done so. Hopefully, this inconsistency will be resolved through the legislative process before any enactment, and it remains to be seen exactly how the Act will deal with collective bargaining agreements.
  • Restitution and Anti-Retaliation: Employees receiving leave benefits from the state will be entitled to return to the job they held before taking leave or to return to an equivalent position with equal benefits, pay and terms and conditions of employment. The bill prohibits employers from taking adverse action against individuals who have filed or expressed intent to file a claim for leave insurance through IDES.
  • Exceptions: Insured family leave under the bill excludes any time an eligible employee receives pay under the Unemployment Insurance Act or the Workers’ Compensation Act.

The bill was referred to the Home Affairs Committee on 12 January 2023 and we will continue to monitor the political and legal landscape of this legislation for development.

As they navigate the requirements and responsibilities of dynamic paid leave, employers should turn to their Seyfarth contact for solutions and recommendations on how to address compliance. To stay up-to-date on Paid Leave developments, click here to sign up for Seyfarth’s Paid Leave mailing list. Companies interested in Seyfarth’s Paid Family Leave or Paid Sick Leave surveys should contact [email protected]

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular circumstances.

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