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Illinois Allows Leave for Military Proceedings Related to Domestic Violence

The Illinois Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA) provides employees who are victims of domestic violence, sexual violence, gender violence, or any other crime of violence, and employees who have a family or household member who is a victim of such violence, with unpaid, job-protected leave; reasonable accommodations; and protections from discrimination and retaliation. VESSA applies to employers with 15 or more employees with at least one employee in the state of Illinois (IL).

Effective May 19, 2022, VESSA is amended via SB 257 to provide added employment protections for survivors of sexual violence in the military by:

  • Allowing employees to take leave to prepare for or participate in any military legal proceeding (in addition to a civil or criminal legal proceeding) related to or derived from domestic violence, sexual violence, gender violence or any other crime of violence;
  • Adding a military record (in addition to a police or court record) to the acceptable forms of certification; and
  • Prohibiting discrimination and retaliation against an individual because they attended, participated in, prepared for or requested leave to attend, participate in or prepare for a court-martial or nonjudicial punishment proceeding under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (in addition to a criminal or civil court proceeding) relating to an incident of domestic violence, sexual violence, gender violence or any criminal violence.

Next Steps for Employers

Employers should make any necessary adjustments to their VESSA policies or leave request processes to include these added reasons for leave.

Employers should also ensure that the required VESSA poster is posted in the workplace in a prominent location which is easily accessible to employees. For those with remote workers, it is recommended that the notice be provided electronically.

For additional information on VESSA leave requirements, employers may visit the IL Department of Labor’s website.

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