Illinois Family Bereavement Leave Act
"Many of you have contacted me regarding the Illinois Family Bereavement Leave Act and asked if our members are eligible, and the short answer is YES. Please find in the link below the actual state statute. Employees are entitled to a maximum of 10 days of UNPAID leave due to the death of a "Covered family member", which is defined in the law.
"Employee" means eligible employee as defined by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. An employee shall provide their employer with at least 48 hours advance notice of the intention to take bereavement leave, unless providing such notice is not reasonable and practicable. An employer may, but is not required to, require reasonable documentation to prove the death of a "covered family member".
When this law took effect at the beginning of the year, I asked the Illinois Department of Labor if railroad workers would be eligible for such leave, and their answer was YES, and we've actually had a few members utilize this leave, after notifying their employer. This leave is available to any employee who reports to work in Illinois and is not residency based. Meaning, that if an employee lives in an adjacent state to Illinois but reports to duty at their home terminal within Illinois, they would be eligible.
Our SMART-TD legal department is aware of this law, as is the SMART-TD General Chairman's Association. I would recommend, if leave is needed due to the death of a "covered family member", that members consult with their Local Chairman and be guided by their respective on-property collective bargaining agreement (CBA). But know that this UNPAID leave is available if members choose.
Our legal department believes that there ultimately could be federal preemption issues, even though the law provides "unpaid" leave, but we won't know until the law is challenged in the courts.
I closely monitored the legislation last year that created the current law and have waited to distribute this information until we had a few members request, and be granted, leave allowed under the law. I will continue to monitor any actions taken and will watch closely to see if the rail carrier's attempt to remove our eligibility or move to exempt us through the courts.
Please let me know if you have any questions or if members are denied the appropriate bereavement leave that the law allows, thanks."
Robert W. Guy
Illinois Legislative Board
126 N. Scott St.
Joliet, IL. 60432