Health Practicalities of Living

New Family Caregiving Act Passed in Illinois

August 23, 2016
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Governor Bruce Rauner of Illinois has signed into law a bill permitting employees to use up to six months of earned sick leave benefits for caregiving responsibilities.

AARP Illinois stands behind the Governor’s action to provide countless Illinois family caregivers with much-needed relief and peace of mind as they struggle to balance the pressures of providing unpaid care for a loved one while meeting the demands of their jobs.

“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.  “The new law is a common sense and compassionate approach allowing family caregivers use of accrued sick leave benefits for caregiving responsibilities.”

“When a loved one becomes ill, it is often difficult for someone to take the time off of work to care for them,” said state representative Andrew Skoog (D-Peru), who sponsored the bill in the House. “This new law will provide working people throughout the state with the ability to take care of their families without the threat of potentially losing their job if they have the sick time available; however, it is not a mandate on small businesses. I appreciate the bi-partisan effort that went into the development of this law, and I look forward to championing other legislation that protects the middle-class families of Illinois.”

“We know too many families in our state are struggling to become and remain employed, stay in their homes, put food on the table and care for one another,” said state senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago), who sponsored the legislation in the Senate. “By expanding the flexibility of sick time use for workers already entitled to those hours, we are easing the pressure on workers without burdening businesses – and we’re helping employers retain healthy employees with healthy families.”

The key provisions of House Bill 6162 include:

  • Defines family member broadly to reflect the reality of the caregiving situation, to include child, spouse, sibling, grandchild, in-law, grandparent or stepparent.
  • Allows employees to use six months of accrued sick leave benefits for a family member’s illness, injury or medical appointment.
  • Provides that all of an employer’s conditions and policies around sick leave benefits continue to apply.
  • Provides that this flexibility does not change employee rights under FMLA, state family leave law, or employer’s disability plan.

Gallo continued, “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.”

Public Act 99-0841 goes into effect on January 1, 2017.

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