The Family Bereavement Leave Act Provides Illinois Employees with the Right to Unpaid Leave in the Event of the Death of a Family Member or Pregnancy, Fertility, or Adoption Related Loss


Earlier this summer, Governor Pritzker signed the Family Bereavement Leave Act (the “FBLA”) into law, expanding upon the 2016 Child Bereavement Leave Act (the “CBLA”), by providing eligible employees with the right to take up to 10-days of unpaid leave in the event of the death of a covered family member or in the event of certain pregnancy, fertility, or adoption related losses. The FBLA becomes effective on January 1, 2023.

The Definition of “Covered Family Members” is Expanded to Include Additional Individuals and Provide Leave Benefits for Employees Who Lose More than One Family Member in a Year

Under the CBLA, “child,” was defined as “an employee’s son or daughter who is a biological, adopted, or foster child, a stepchild, a legal ward, or a child of a person standing in loco parentis.” The FBLA, by contrast, provides leave for additional individuals, referenced as “covered family members,” which includes an employee’s child or stepchild, as well as spouse, domestic partner, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent, or stepparent. The FBLA also defines “domestic partners” to include adults in committed relationships, as opposed to just legally recognized partnerships.

 In the event a qualifying employee loses more than one covered family member in a year, the employee will be entitled to take up to a maximum of 6-weeks of unpaid leave during any given 12-month period.

Employees May Opt to Take Bereavement Leave for Pregnancy, Fertility, and Adoption Leave

Apart from the death of a covered family member, the FBLA also provides qualifying employees with the right to take unpaid time off in the event of certain pregnancy, fertility, and adoption-related losses. Qualifying employees may be eligible to take unpaid time off due to the following events: (i) a miscarriage; (ii) an unsuccessful round of an assisted reproductive technology procedure; (iii) a failed adoption match or a contested adoption; (iv) a failed surrogacy; (v) a diagnosis that impacts pregnancy or fertility; or (vi) a stillbirth.

Leave Must Be Taken Within 60-Days of Notice of the Triggering Event

Employees must complete a bereavement leave within 60-days after receiving notice of the death of a covered family member or after the date on which the pregnancy, fertility, or adoption-related loss occurred.

Employers May Request Reasonable Documentation

Employers may elect to request “reasonable documentation” to support an employee’s request for bereavement leave. Such documentation, in the event of the death of a covered family member, may include a death certificate, published obituary, or written verification of death, burial, or memorial services from a funeral home or similar entity.

With respect to pregnancy, fertility, and adoption-related leave, reasonable documentation may include a form provided by the IDOL, which will need to be filled out by a healthcare provider; or, relevant documentation from the adoption or surrogacy organization related to the adoption/surrogacy related loss.

Importantly, when requesting documentation from employees, employers are expressly prohibited under the FBLA from requiring employees to identify the specific category of requested bereavement leave.

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