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Illinois has recently enacted measures that expand bereavement leave rights for specific groups of employees, impacting senior living operators. Governor J.B. Pritzker signed two significant pieces of legislation: the Child Extended Bereavement Leave Act and an amendment to the Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA). 

Child Extended Bereavement Leave Act for Suicide or Homicide: 

Effective January 1, 2024, the Child Extended Bereavement Leave Act allows employees who lose a child to suicide or homicide to take unpaid leave to grieve their loss. This includes biological, adopted, foster, or stepchildren, legal wards, or children of those in loco parentis. Senior living operators with at least 50 full-time employees in Illinois are covered by this act. 

Employees who have worked for their employer for at least 2 weeks are eligible for this bereavement leave. The duration of the leave depends on the employer’s size: large employers (250 or more full-time employees) offer up to 12 weeks, while small employers (50 to 249 full-time employees) offer up to 6 weeks of unpaid leave. 

Leave can be taken continuously or intermittently, and notice should be provided to the employer. Documentation, such as a death certificate or obituary, may be required. Employees can choose to substitute other types of leave for an equivalent period under this Act. 

Bereavement Leave for Family Members of Victims of Violence: 

Amendments to VESSA, effective January 1, 2024, extend unpaid leave rights for employees whose family or household members are killed in a crime of violence. Employees can take up to two weeks of unpaid leave within 60 days of receiving notice of the victim’s death. This leave covers attending the funeral, making necessary arrangements, and grieving the loss. 

Employers may request documentation confirming the violent nature of the death. Importantly, this leave is in addition to any leave available under the Family Bereavement Leave Act. 

Senior living operators should take proactive steps to review and update their bereavement policies to ensure compliance with these new requirements by the effective date. This will help ensure that employees can navigate these challenging times while maintaining a supportive workplace environment. 

If you need help reviewing your employee handbook, reach out to Procare HR. 

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