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August 01, 2005
Blagojevich Signs Military Leave Bill

The Family and Military Leave Act (PA 94-589), signed by Governor Rod Blagojevich and effective on August 15, 2005, creates another leave entitlement for Illinois employers and employees.

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Employer requirements:

  • Employers of over 50 must grant up to 30 days' unpaid leave to employees who are spouses or parents of military personnel. The leave may take place during the time federal or state deployment orders are in effect. The bill defines the term "employee" as one who has been employed by the same employer for at least 12 months, and has worked for at least 1,250 hours.
  • Employers of 15 to 50 employees to grant up to 15 days' unpaid leave under the same circumstances.
  • During the leave, employers must make it possible for employees to continue their benefits at the employee's expense. Alternatively, the employer and employee may negotiate for the employer to maintain benefits at the employer's expense.

Employee requirements. Affected employees, where possible, must consult with their employers to schedule the leave so as to not unduly disrupt company operations. If the leave will consist of 5 or more consecutive work days, employees must also give at least 14 days' notice of the date on which the leave will begin. Those taking leave of fewer than 5 days must give as much advance notice as practicable. Employees may not take leave unless they have exhausted all accrued leaves except sick and disability.

Employee rights. Employees who exercise the right to leave are entitled, when the leave expires, to restoration to the position they held when the leave began, or to a position with equivalent seniority, benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment. This requirement does not apply if the employer proves that the employee was not restored because of conditions unrelated to the employee's exercise of rights under the new law.

Employer prohibitions. Employers may not interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of these rights, nor discharge, fine, suspend, expel, discipline, or discriminate against any employee that exercises these rights. Aggrieved employees may bring employers to court in a civil lawsuit.

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