Illinois (IL) Maternity Leave Law

Just thought I would pop on here and let you know what I learned today about Illinois maternity leave laws from the Illinois Department of Labor web site. Hopefully you will find it interesting and useful!

In a nutshell, if you are a private sector employee Illinois has no laws guaranteeing job protection or benefits for new parents. So if you are a private sector employee your best bet is probably to use the two federal laws that come into play for pregnant women and new parents. They are the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and also by the Family Medical Leave Act.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act ensures that pregnant women are treated just like everyone else at the company. Basically, it makes it illegal for employers to fire, refuse to hire, or deny a woman a promotion because she’s pregnant. Also, f a company offers sick leave or disability to other employees, and then it also must offer them for pregnancy-related issues.

The Family Medical Leave Act allows private or public sector employees 12 weeks of unpaid leave to, among other things, take care of a newborn baby or newly adopted child. One thing though—if you plan to take advantage of this act you have to work for an employer with more than 50 employees in a 75-mile radius.

There’s a provisions you should be aware of under the FMLA. It is that it is completely legal for key employees to be terminated during leave. What does this mean? It means that your company can terminate you during your leave. You are considered a key employee if you are in the top 10 percent of highest paid employees. This provision was designed to ease economic hardships for companies who were missing key employees.

How do you know if you are one of these key employees? Your company has to tell you. If they decided to terminate you, they also have to give you the options of returning to work before your leave is up.

Now, the story is a bit different if you are a state employee. State employees who are members of the state employees’ group insurance program may be eligible for family and medical leave benefits. Eligible female state employees who pre-certify their pregnancy within the first trimester are entitled to three work weeks, or 15 days, of paid maternity leave. Eligible male state employees who pre-certify their spouse’s pregnancy in the first trimester are entitled to two work weeks, or ten days, or paid paternity leave. Illinois state employees re also entitled to one year of job-protected family leave to care for a newborn.

But what if you are adopting? Well, I found out that state employees who can show that a formal adoption process is underway are entitled to two work weeks, or ten days, of paid adoption leave. The leave begins when the employee gets physical custody of the child.

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26 Thoughts on “Illinois (IL) Maternity Leave Law”

Dan

May 20, 2008 at 4:47 pm

Hello,

My wife and I are expecting twins sometime in November which will be delivered by C-section. I would imagine she will be in the hospital for a few days after this. I work for a company with only 7 employees. Three of us — myself and two others –are based out of Illinois. I would like to take a couple days off while she is in the hospital and a week on top of that after she has gotten out to help out. I have a week’s vacation but I do not want to use it for this. Is there anything that can help me out in my situatuion?

Thank you,
Dan

Amelia

May 20, 2008 at 10:17 pm

Hi Dan — Congratulations on the new family! (Okay, we’re a little early.) This is a tricky question. If you pop over to our sister site, http://www.laborlawtalk.com, and post a question, they’ll be able to help you. Best Wishes! Amelia

Lisa Benson

March 18, 2009 at 11:19 am

I am a teacher and the last day of school is 6/12/09 but my due date is 6/19/09. I’m supposed to return in September but want to take maternity leave. Can I do this?

Amelia

March 18, 2009 at 12:21 pm

Hi Lisa! Yes, you can probably take unpaid, job-protected leave under FMLA, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. FMLA permits employees to take a total of 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period.
If your doctor puts you on disability before your due date, you are entitled to unpaid leave under FMLA.
You can also take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for baby bonding during the child’s first year, under FMLA. However, FMLA is limited to a total of 12 weeks for all of these purposes, in a calendar year (not a school year.) For example, if you were off the last 2 weeks of the school term, then you could take 10 weeks beginning in September for baby bonding. But you could not take 12 weeks beginning in September for baby bonding, because you had already used 2 weeks. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

brad

March 30, 2009 at 4:59 pm

Where can one find information on how female Illinois state employees are eligble for 15 days paid maternity leave?

How is eligible and how do you go about applying for it?

Amelia

March 31, 2009 at 1:04 pm

Hi Brad! There is no state-wide paid maternity leave program in Illinois. Some individual employers may offer two weeks of short term disability, The best bet would be for the woman to contact her employer about this. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

Jessica

May 29, 2009 at 9:44 am

I had a baby in March, took my 8 weeks of leave (paid by my accumulated sick days), and am back to work. The school district I work for is hassling me by not paying me in a timely manner for the time I have worked since returning from leave. I have been back for one month (two pay cycles) and still have received no compensation. They claim they can’t do anything until the next pay cycle (June 15). By then I will have worked 6 weeks without receiving pay. Is there any thing in the FMLA about pay upon returning to work?

Amelia

May 30, 2009 at 10:32 am

Hi Jessica! There is nothing in the FMLA, however, under the Illinois Payday law, an employer must pay the worker on payday. Period. The paycheck cannot be late, even by one day. Our suggestion: let the employer know that you expect to be paid by the next business day. If that deadline is not met, file a wage claim with the Illinois Department of Labor. We can almost guarantee that you will have your paycheck within 48 hours after the employer knows that you filed a wage claim. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

File a wage claim at: http://www.state.il.us/agency/idol/laws/Law115.htm
Read about the Illinois Payday Law at: http://www.state.il.us/agency/idol/laws/Law115.htm

Bogna

August 10, 2009 at 7:40 pm

I’m in my 6th week of my 9 weeks of maternity leave. I would like to extend it to the 12weeks leave. Can I request it now without prevoius notice to an employer?

Amelia

August 10, 2009 at 10:49 pm

Hi Bogna! Yes, you can (and should) let the employer know now that you do not plan to return to work when the 9 weeks are up. If your employer has 50 or more workers within 75 miles, you probably covered by FMLA, and entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Even after your doctor releases you to return to work, you can take the remainder of the 12 weeks to bond with your baby. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

Alice

October 9, 2009 at 10:04 am

My husband and I are just starting a family and I asked my employer if they offer any maternity leave and they do not offer anything. The only thing they offer is a 2 week vacation plan, if you have not used it already, and any sick/personal days paid that you have left. They also provide us with an FMLA option, we are guaranteed to get our job or an identical job back upon our return. My question: is it true that it’s not mandatory for companies to provide one with maternity leave? And is there something I can do to receive some kind of help during my maternity leave?

Amelia

October 9, 2009 at 11:45 am

Hi Alice! Yes, it is true that Illinois employers are not required to provide any paid maternity leave. In fact, FMLA is the only “maternity” leave required in most states. (A few states extend FMLA-type benefits to smaller companies, but no states require employers to provide paid leave.) Across the nation, millions of women who work for companies with fewer than 50 employees are not entitled to any “maternity” leave at all — even unpaid. Those women often lose their jobs when they have a child. A handful of states provide 6 to 8 weeks of short term disability benefits for new mothers, but Illinois does not. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

jean

January 25, 2010 at 4:57 pm

I work at a salon\day spa with roughly 40 employees. I took a maternity leave about 2 years ago in September for 7 weeks. I started working there march 22nd 2007, when I got back from my leave they said my new start date was may 22nd because I took a leave? I have never been at a job who has done that is that legal? we don”t get paid maternity but we do get 2 weeks paid every year we work there. in our contract it does state that we do get a 12 week leave for any person medical or maternity leave. So what is right?

Amelia

January 25, 2010 at 7:58 pm

Hi jean! The company is basically saying that you do not earn benefits while you are on leave. Rather than figure your seniority by saying “Well, she has been here 24 months but she took a two-month leave of absence, so she’s really only been here for 22 months…” they simply treat you as if your hire date was 8 weeks later, on May 22 instead of March 22. This makes it fair in determining anniversary dates for vacation, raises, evaluations, etc.

Another way of saying this: You started on May 22, 2007. You took a leave of absence of about 8 weeks. That does not count as time worked, so you reached your one-year anniversary on May 22, 2008 — after you had worked 12 months.

If you took another 8 weeks of unpaid leave, your new “anniversary date” would July 22. This is the date used for calculating benefits.

However, your actual hire date for unemployment and other legal purposes is still March 22, 2007. This is completely legal and fair. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

Nadine

June 21, 2010 at 5:27 pm

I want to take a new job and I am 23 weeks pregnant. I live and work in Illinois. I will not have worked for the new employer for a year at the time of delivery. Is the employer required to give me any maternity related leave should I be hired for the job? Can they let me go for taking 6 weeks off for maternity or longer should I have any complications before or after delivery?

Amelia

June 21, 2010 at 6:34 pm

Hi Nadine! Illinois has no state family leave law, so the relevant statute is the FMLA, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. That law does not grant any leave unless the employee has worked for the employer at least 12 months. So the answer is yes, the employer could let you go when you miss a few weeks for pregnancy or childbirth. (Just so you know, most doctors will not let the new mother return to work for 4 to 6 weeks after a normal delivery — longer for a c-section or complications.) However, the same would be true of any Illinois employer.

Some companies do offer unpaid maternity leave to employees who have not been with the company for 12 months. By law, if the employer offers paid or unpaid leave or benefits for eployees with a short term disability for another medical problem such as heart attack or surgery, they must offer the same benefits for childbirth disability. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

Carmen

July 16, 2010 at 10:12 am

Hi Amelia,
I need your advice. I work for a small company with 6 employees. I have been working there for less than 12 months. I am pregnant and my doctors sent me to bed rest due to pregnancy complications. Do I have any rights?

Amelia

July 16, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Hi Carmen! There is no federal or Illinois law that requires an employer with only 6 workers to give paid or unpaid leave to employees. Even the federal laws that prohibit pregnancy discrimination do not apply to employers with less than 15 workers. In this case, the employer can treat you like any other employee who misses several weeks of work for a medical issue. Some small employers would permit an employee to take several weeks off with a medical issue, others would not. If the employer usually fires employees who cannot return to work within a few weeks, you can be fired.

If you are fired for missing too much time, once you recover you may qualify for unemployment benefits. However, an employee who is physically unable to work does not qualify for unemployment. You can reapply for your job once you are able to return to work, but there is no guarantee that you will be hired.

You are entitled to continued health insurance coverage through the Illinois mini-COBRA law. You will have to pay the entire health insurance premium, including any portion paid by the employer in the past. If you are having financial problems due to not working, you can dial 211 from any landline phone (not cell phone) for a directory of social services available in your area. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

Vaiva

October 17, 2010 at 8:48 pm

Hi Amelia, I work for a small agency (less than 20 people) and I’m going on maternity leave in April with no pay, can I get temporary unemployment while on unpaid maternity leave? Thanks!

Amelia

October 18, 2010 at 7:35 am

Hi Vaiva! Unfortunately, no. Unemployment is available only for people who have no job, are physically able to work, and are actively looking for a job. None of those apply to you. When you go on maternity leave, you will have a job. You will not be physically able to work for at least 6 weeks, and you will not be actively looking for a job — you’ll be staying at home with your baby.

Very few states provide benefits for new mothers. Illinois does not. If your employer fires you when you go on maternity leave, after your doctor releases you to return to work, you can collect unemployment if you are actually looking for a job. Otherwise, if you need money, you may want to apply for public aid. I believe in Illinois that is called TANF or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

Mary

December 9, 2010 at 9:09 pm

My question is as a federal employee with yes more then 50 workers and 8 years on the job am I eligible to get paid while on maternity leave? I’m going to take the 12weeks allowed but i also want to get paid for them is that something that will allow for me to get the money while i’m out having my baby?

Amelia

December 9, 2010 at 9:27 pm

Hi Mary! This will depend upon the policies of the specific agency that you work for and the amount of sick leave, vacation time or personal leave that you have accumulated. Generally federal employees are entitled to 12 weeks of leave under FMLA, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. However, FMLA is unpaid.

Many employees carry short term disability insurance that provides partial income replacement when the employee is physically unable to work. For a normal delivery, this is usually 6 weeks.

Consult your HR department or employee handbook, but there is no blanket program that provides paid maternity leave to all federal employees. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

Beth

January 5, 2011 at 7:41 pm

I have been on maternity leave for the past 2 months. When I went in for a meeting right before returning they told me I have been assigned a new position and my pay was dramatically cut. I work for a small dental business with only 10 employees. My question is if I go for unemployment will I likely get unemployment benefits or not?? Thank you

Amelia

January 5, 2011 at 8:10 pm

Hi Beth! Usually when an employee quits rather than accepting a new job with significantly lower wages, the employee qualifies for unemployment benefits. However, if you work even one day in the new position, you have accepted it and no longer qualify for benefits. If the employer was offering to return you to the same job, and you refused, you would not qualify for benefits.

In this case you would tell the unemployment agency that after your maternity leave, you were not returned to your job. The only job you were offered was at a significantly lower salary, and it just didn’t make financial sense to accept it. Assuming that you have worked enough quarters in the past 15 months, you should qualify for benefits. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

Emily

June 25, 2014 at 9:58 am

I’m a speech-language pathologist and work for a contractual company that contracts to school districts. I recently found out that I was pregnant, and it was not planned. In this company, I am allowed no paid sick days, no paid vacation days, etc. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid. I do get health insurance. I’m not sure how many employees my company has, or if I would be entitled to any leave. Even though I’m not entitled to sick or vacation days, is my company still held to the FMLA?

Amelia

June 26, 2014 at 11:12 am

Emily, the good news is that FMLA is entirely separate from other benefits like vacation or sick leave, and even health insurance. If a business has more than 50 employees, it’s likely they are covered by FMLA. In that case, you are entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave. (All schools are covered by FMLA, but because you are employed by a contractual company rather than the school, this likely does not apply to you.) Check your employee handbook. It should include some information on FMLA and is at least a starting point for your inquiries.

However, we do have one question about this situation. Are you sure you are an employee, and not an independent contractor? Because independent contractors (often called contract employees) are not employees, they are never covered by FMLA. Unfortunately, if you are not covered by FMLA, Illinois does not have a family leave law that would apply.

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