Illinois Leave Laws

April 12th 2024

Leave is a key component in ensuring the health and productivity of the workforce. This article explores the leave entitlements of employees in Illinois, focusing on the types available and eligibility factors.

In Illinois, there are mandatory and non-mandatory types of leave, determined by state law. Most laws do not dictate whether absences should be paid or unpaid; this decision is up to the employer.

Regulations may vary for private and public employees. It is important to note that employees who take a required leave of absence, should not face any negative consequences for these circumstances.

This Article Covers

Illinois Required Leave
Illinois Non-Required Leave

Illinois Required Leave

There are numerous types of leave that employers in Illinois are required to provide to their employees. These include the following:

1. Medical and Family Leave

  • Eligibility: In line with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employers in Illinois are required to offer job-protected leave to eligible employees. To qualify, employees must have worked at least 12 months and 1,250 hours for an employer. The FMLA applies to all state employers, public and private elementary or secondary school employers, and companies that have at least 50 workers.
  • Duration: The FMLA grants up to 12 weeks of leave per year.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: There are several qualifying reasons for leave, such as bonding with a new child, recuperating from a serious health condition, caring for a family member in poor health, dealing with exigencies arising from a family member’s military service, and caring for a family member who suffered a serious injury during active duty.

2. Blood Donation Leave

  • Eligibility: All employers are required to grant paid leave to employees who wish to donate blood. To qualify for this leave, an employee must have been employed for a minimum of 6 months. The law applies to public employers and private employers with more than 50 employees.
  • Duration: Up to 1 hour of paid leave every 56 days.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: To donate blood.

3. Bereavement Leave

  • Eligibility: In Illinois, the Family Bereavement Leave Act mandates that all public employers and private employers with more than 50 employees, provide unpaid bereavement leave to eligible employees.
  • Duration: Up to 14 days of unpaid leave.
  • Circumstances for Utilizing Leave: Circumstances include the death of a family member, a stillbirth, a miscarriage, an unsuccessful reproductive procedure, a failed adoption match or an adoption that is not finalized because it is contested, a failed surrogacy agreement, or a diagnosis that negatively impacts pregnancy or fertility.

4. School Leave

  • Eligibility: The School Visitation Rights Act requires all employers with 50 or more employees to provide leave to eligible employees if they are the parents of a child in school. The employee must have been employed for at least 6 months and their average number of hours per week needs to be equal to at least half the full-time equivalent position. In addition, the employee should provide a written request for leave, at least 7 days in advance. In emergency situations, no more than 24 hours notice is required. The employee must first use up any other form of leave available.
  • Duration: Up to 8 hours per school year, with no more than 4 hours on the same day.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: Parents who work can attend school-related activities that they otherwise cannot attend due to working hours. Activities include school conferences, behavioral meetings, and academic meetings.

5. Jury Duty Leave

  • Eligibility: All employers are obligated to provide leave to employees summoned for jury duty. Employers are prohibited from firing an employee or taking adverse actions based on this circumstance. Additionally, if the employee serves on a jury during the day and has work scheduled for the night shift, they are not obligated to come in.
  • Duration: For the duration of the jury service.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: When summoned for jury service.
  • Pay: No employer is obligated to compensate an employee for this leave.

6. Voting Time Leave

  • Eligibility: All employers are required to allow employees to take leave to vote. This leave is only applicable for employees whose shifts start within 2 hours of the polls opening or end within 2 hours of the polls closing. Employees must also provide prior notice.
  • Duration: Up to 2 hours of leave.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: To exercise the right to vote on an election day.

7. Military Leave

  • Eligibility: Illinois complies with the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, which states that all employees must receive a leave of absence to serve or train in the US Armed Forces, National Guard, or state militia. The law also requires that upon their return, they receive the same pay and benefits as prior to the taken leave.
  • Duration: Up to 5 years of unpaid leave.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: For active duty, training, or any other type of service.

8. Family Military Leave

  • Eligibility: The Family Military Leave Act entitles employees to unpaid leave if a family member (spouse, parent, child, or grandchild) is called up to military service for more than 30 days. The employee must also have worked for the same employer for at least 12 months, and 1,250 hours.
  • Duration: Employers with 15-50 employees must provide up to 15 days of unpaid leave. Companies with more than 50 employees are required to grant up to 30 days of unpaid leave.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: When a family member (spouse, parent, child, or grandchild) is called up to military service for more than 30 days.

9. Disaster Service Leave

  • Eligibility: The Disaster Service Leave Act enables all employees of State agencies, who are certified disaster service volunteers for the American Red Cross or assigned to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, to receive paid leave to provide disaster relief services.
  • Duration: Up to 12 days every 12 months.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: To provide emergency services in the event of a disaster designated at least Level III in the American National Red Cross Regulations, or any disaster declared by the Governor.

10. Witness Leave

  • Eligibility: Under Illinois law, employers must grant either paid or unpaid leave to an employee called to appear in court as a witness.
  • Duration: For the required amount of time.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: When required to appear in court as a witness.

11. Crime Victim Leave

  • Eligibility: If an employee or their family/household member is a victim of a crime, the employer must provide leave to attend proceedings related to the crime.
  • Duration: For the length of proceedings.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: When required to attend proceedings as a victim of a crime.

12. Domestic Violence or Sexual Assault Leave

  • Eligibility: The Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA) allows employees who are victims of domestic violence or sexual violence, or any other crime of violence or who have family or household members who are victims of such violence, to take unpaid leave.
  • Duration: The length of the leave depends on the size of the employer. Companies with at least 50 employees must provide up to 12 weeks of leave. Those with between 15 and 49 employees are required to grant up to 8 weeks of leave. Employers with up to 14 employees are obligated to permit up to 4 weeks of leave.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: This leave can be utilized for receiving medical treatment, counseling, collaborating with protective services, relocation, or engaging in legal proceedings. 

13. Vacation Leave

  • Eligibility: The Paid Leave for All Workers Act (PLAWA), allows workers to receive paid leave. Certain categories of workers are not subject to this law. Employers who retaliate against workers for exercising their right to leave may face penalties. Employees can carry over all unused accrued paid leave to the next year. However, any unused front-loaded leave does not have to be carried over.
  • Duration: Minimum of 40 hours of paid leave per year. Employers are entitled to offer more if they choose. This can be accrued by earning 1 hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked, or it can be front-loaded, where the employer provides all paid leave hours at the start of the 12-month period.
  • Circumstances for Utilizing Leave: Leave can be taken for any reason and employees are not required to provide their employee with a purpose.

Illinois Non-Required Leave

Illinois law allows employers to choose whether to offer their employees sick, vacation, and holiday leave, without any obligation to do so. However, if an employer chooses to provide leave, the conditions must be clearly stated in the employment contract and company policies. Non-mandatory types of leave in Illinois include:

1. Sick Leave

Illinois does not mandate employers to provide paid or unpaid sick days to their employees.

2. Holiday Leave

Employers in Illinois are not obligated to provide their employees any holiday leave, whether paid or unpaid.

Here is a table of official federal holidays observed in Illinois:

Holiday Date
New Year’s Day 1 January
Martin Luther King Jr. Civil Rights Day Third Monday in January
Presidents’ Day Third Monday in February
Memorial Day Last Monday in May
Independence Day 4 July
Labor Day First Monday in September
Columbus Day Second Monday in October
Veterans Day 11 November
Thanksgiving Day Fourth Thursday in November
Day after Thanksgiving Fourth Friday in November
Christmas Day 25 December

 If you want to know more about the entitlements of employees in Illinois, you can read our guides on your rights as a salaried employee in Illinois, and your rights as an hourly employee in Illinois. You can also learn more about Illinois Labor Laws through our detailed guide.

Important Cautionary Note

This content is provided for informational purposes only. While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information presented, we cannot guarantee that it is free of errors or omissions. Users are advised to independently verify any critical information and should not solely rely on the content provided.