Effective January 1, 2021, Illinois has amended the state Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act to provide victims of violent crime the same employee rights to unpaid leave under the Act as those provided to victims of domestic, sexual and gender violence. The changes also expand the definition of family or household member, and sexual violence as follows:
- Definition of family or household member includes the addition of grandparents, grandchildren, others sharing a relationship through a child, parties to civil unions, and family equivalents
- Definition of sexual violence is now defined as sexual assault.
Reasons for Leave
The amendments allow employees who are, or whose family or household members are victims of any crime of violence (as defined by the amendments) to take off work for the reasons already permitted for employee victims of domestic, sexual and gender violence for:
- Medical attention for or recovery from physical or psychological injuries;
- Services from a victim services organization;
- Psychological or other counseling; or
- Safety planning, relocating or other actions to increase safety or ensure economic security.
The amount of leave required by the Act will be determined by employer size as follows:
- 1-14 employees: four weeks of unpaid leave per year
- 15-49 employees: eight weeks of unpaid leave per year
- 50 employees or more: 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year
Next Steps for Employers
Employers with written policies on Domestic Violence leave should review and update their policy to incorporate these new protections. A policy title change may also be needed to convey that leave is applicable to victims of all types of violence.
Additional information and resources including a fact sheet and poster are available from the Illinois Department of Labor’s website.