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Illinois to expand family, medical leave for educational support staff

"It is important that everyone has access to leave that allows for selfcare or the care of a loved one"
Credit: 2mmedia - stock.adobe.com

CHICAGO — Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed House Bill 12 into law, which expands access to family and medical leave for educational support staff in school districts, public universities and community colleges.

“It’s enormously important to ensure that all of Illinois’ education professionals have not only what they need to support the students and families they serve, but also to care for themselves and their own families, too,” said Pritzker.

The bill will allow a school district, public university or community college district employee who has been employed for at least 12 months and has worked at least 1,000 hours in the previous year to be eligible for family and medical leave under the same terms and conditions as the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993.

Previously, an employee must have worked 1,250 hours during the previous year.

The change will benefit secretaries, teachers’ aides, paraeducators, maintenance workers, school bus drivers and cafeteria workers. These workers are often unable to meet the past requirement of 1,250 due to the limited number of days they are able to work, according to a press release from Pritzker’s office.

Family and medical leave is more widely known for taking care of a newborn, adopted or foster child, but FMLA can also be used if an employee needs time to recuperate from a serious health condition, care for a family member with a serious health condition or care for a family member who sustained injuries while on active duty for the military.

“The ability to take family or medical leave is a right and not a privilege,” said Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton. “This legislation is about compassion in policy making because it is important that everyone has access to leave that allows for selfcare or the care of a loved one.”

House Bill 12 is effective Jan. 1, 2022.

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