Illinois Enacts Family Military Leave Act

  • August 22, 2005

On August 14, 2005, Governor Rod Blagojevich signed the Illinois Family Military Leave Act, designed to ensure that close family members of persons called to active military duty have an opportunity to spend time with their spouses or children before deployment without the risk of losing their jobs.  The law is effective immediately.

Under the Act, employees who have worked for the same employer for at least 12 months, and for at least 1250 hours in the last year, are entitled to take unpaid, job-protected leave to visit with a spouse or child who has been called into military service for a period lasting longer than 30 days.  While on leave, employers must continue any benefits at the employee's expense.  Employers with between 15 and 50 employees must provide up to 15 days of leave.  Employers with more than 50 employees must provide up to 30 days.  The Act also covers independent contractors. 

Employees returning from family military leave must be restored to the same position, or to a position with equivalent seniority, benefits and pay.  Employers are prohibited from interfering with or restraining an eligible employee's request for leave and cannot take any adverse job action against an employee who exercises his or her rights under the Act.   Employers also may not retaliate against any employee who opposes any practice made unlawful by the Act.  Individuals may enforce their rights under the Act by filing suit in Illinois circuit court.

Employers doing business in Illinois should review their leave policies to ensure compliance with this amendment. Should you have any questions, consult with legal counsel.

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