WORKPLACE FLEXIBLITY FOR FAMILY CAREGIVERS NEW STATE LAW

By Dina Anderson/AARP CHICAGO

Governor Rauner 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, and;
  • Allows employees to use six months of accrued sick leave benefits for a family member’s illness, injury or medical appointment, and;
  • Provides that all of an employer’s conditions and policies around sick leave benefits continue to apply, and;
  • Provides that this flexibility does not change employee rights under FMLA, state family leave law, or employer’s disability plan.

AARP State Director 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 went into effect on January 1, 2017.

Legislature Approves Bill Strengthening Law for Illinois’ Working Family Caregivers and Employers

SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Jan. 11, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Thousands of working caregivers in Illinois received a wonderful gift for the New Year: not only did the Eligible Leave for Employee Caregiving Time (ELECT) law, commonly known as the Employee Sick Leave law, go into effect on January 1, giving working caregivers the flexibility take care of an ill family member, but new provisions agreed to between AARP and the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association strengthened this pioneering law.

Both chambers of the General Assembly unanimously passed a trailer bill to Public Act 99-0841 (HB 6162), signed by Governor Rauner in 2016, to further clarify and strengthen the law for both employers and employees. The new provisions were agreed to by AARP Illinois and the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association.

“The new provisions to the ELECT law will help thousands of working caregivers in Illinois have the flexibility they need at work to perform their labor of love,” said AARP Illinois Director of Advocacy, Ryan Gruenenfelder. “We thank Senator Collins, Representative Breen and former Representative Skoog for their leadership and their commitment to improve the lives of Illinoisans ages 50 and older, and their family members.”

The ELECT law provides caregivers with the support they need at work, by allowing them to use up to six months of earned or accrued paid or unpaid sick leave benefits annually to care for a sick parent, child, stepchild, stepparent, grandparent, grandchild, spouse, domestic partner, sibling, or in-law.

“Our duty is to support families, especially those struggling with employment and the ever-increasing costs of living and caring for one another,” said State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-16), who sponsored SB 2799 and HB 6162. “I applaud the Senate’s passage of this important measure today and urge the governor to join us in expanding the flexibility of sick time use for workers already entitled to those hours. This is good for businesses, good for employees, and good for families.”

“Today’s bill proves the legislative process can work in a bi-partisan effort to support Illinois’ working family caregivers while providing needed clarification for employers under the Employee Sick Leave law,” said House Assistant Republican Leader Peter Breen (R-48), who sponsored SB 2799. “The measure will make a difference in the lives of thousands of working family caregivers who are balancing their careers and caring for an ill family member. As an elected official, I’m proud to have advocated for both the 50-plus population and the business community by passing this critical bill.”

“When a loved one becomes ill, it is often difficult for someone to take the time off of work to care for them,” said former State Representative Andrew F. Skoog (D-76), who sponsored the original bill in the House. “This law provides 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. I appreciate the bi-partisan effort that went into the development of this law, and I’m pleased the trailer bill offers great clarification for the business community and their employees.”

Working caregivers make tough choices in order to take care of a loved one, and urgently needed workplace flexibility. Sixty percent of caregivers are working, 56% of who work full time; six in 10 caregivers report having to make work accommodations because of caregiving duties, including cutting back on hours, changing jobs, or quitting work entirely, according to a national study.

SOURCE AARP Illinois

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