New Illinois Donor Leave Law Sends A Message To Private Sector

Lawmakers’ Attention Likely To Turn Back To Paid Sick Leave Legislation This Fall

With so many new major Illinois employment laws already enacted this year, even the most well-informed HR professionals would be forgiven if they felt unable to predict and plan for the next wave of workplace legislation likely to come down the pike before year’s end.

Fortunately, Springfield lawmakers signaled their intentions on August 2, 2019 when Governor Pritzker signed into law the Illinois Donor Protection Act (IDPA). You can read the law here.

At first blush, to private sector employers, the IDPA might appear insignificant. Most directly, it amends an existing Illinois law that grants Illinois State government employees only up to 30 days in a 12-month period for bone marrow or organ donation, and up to two hours for platelet donations, by adding a prohibition on retaliation against workers who request or take donor leave. Illinois is one of only two states that mandate paid leave for private sector workers to donate blood.

However, bigger picture, the IDPA indicates that Illinois’ new governor fully intends to carry out his inauguration promise to advance policies that support parental leave, including paid leave.

That’s why, looking ahead to the Fall Session, one can reasonably expect that Springfield lawmakers will pass the pending Healthy Workplace Act (SB0471) (HWA), which mandates paid family sick leave benefits that mirror those already afforded to Chicago and some Cook County private sector employees. We previously wrote about SB0471 here.

During his inaugural address, Governor Pritzker called for an embrace of “more robust policies supporting paid parental leave,” and passage of the Healthy Workplace Act would put Illinois on par with other states that recently have passed paid leave laws, including Arizona, California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

Mandating paid sick leave would certainly be a logical next step for Illinois’ progressive lawmakers. Illinois already requires employers who provide paid sick time to allow workers to use some of that leave for a family members’ illness, injury or medical appointments, with certain exceptions.

For all these reasons, forward-thinking Illinois HR professionals will want to prepare to revamp their leave policies as part of an already crowded 2019-20 employment law compliance agenda.

For a quick rundown of five other new employment laws going into effect in 2019-20, click here.


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Gary Savine is an Illinois employment lawyer and founder of Savine Employment Law, Ltd. in Chicago. Gary regularly advises human resources professionals on recently enacted employment laws.