Illinois Family Military Leave: What legal protections are available for military family leave?

Understanding Illinois Family Military Leave

For those serving in the military, the balance between duty to country and commitment to family is a constant challenge. Recognizing this, Illinois has established legal protections for military family leave, ensuring that service members and their families have the support they need during times of deployment or active service. This article delves into the specifics of Illinois family military leave, detailing the rights and protections afforded to military families under state law.

Illinois Military Family Leave Act (IMFLA)

The Illinois Military Family Leave Act (IMFLA) is designed to provide job-protected leave to immediate family members of service members. Under IMFLA, eligible employees who work at companies with 15 or more employees can take up to 30 days of unpaid leave while a family member is on deployment or impending deployment in a combat theater or combat zone. Eligible family members include spouses, parents, children, and grandchildren.

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for leave under the IMFLA, employees must meet specific criteria:

Notification and Documentation

An employee seeking leave under IMFLA must provide their employer with at least 14 days' advance notice if the leave will last five or more consecutive days. When taking less than five days, notice should be as far in advance as is practical. The employer may require certification from the appropriate military authority to verify the employee's eligibility for the leave.

Employment and Benefits Protection

During the leave, employees are entitled to retain their employment benefits. Upon return from leave, they must be restored to their original job or an equivalent position with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment.

Federal Protections: The FMLA

In addition to state protections, federal law also provides support through the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Qualifying employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons, which can include circumstances related to a family member's military service. For example, FMLA allows for "qualifying exigency" leave arising out of a covered military member's active duty status. Moreover, military caregiver leave permits eligible employees to take up to 26 workweeks of leave in a single 12-month period to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness.

Conclusion

The legal protections afforded by Illinois law offer essential support for military families during challenging times. By understanding and utilizing these laws, employees can manage their work responsibilities while maintaining their commitment to their loved ones serving in the armed forces.