Public Act 10-144 (the "Act") went into effect on October 1, 2010. The Act implements various recommendations from a legislative task force on issues related to family violence. There are two provisions of the Act that have a direct impact on employers.

First, the law requires employers with three or more employees to provide victims of family violence up to 12 days of paid or unpaid leave in any calendar year. The leave must be provided when it is reasonably necessary to:

      1. seek medical care or counseling for physical or psychological injury or disability for the victim;
      2. obtain services from a victim services organization;
      3. relocate due to the family violence; or
      4. participate in any civil or criminal proceeding related to or resulting from such family violence.

Employers may require that eligible employees request leave at least seven days in advance when the leave is foreseeable or as soon as practicable when it is not foreseeable. An employee may use any available paid time off or, if the employee does not have available paid time off, the employer must provide unpaid leave.

Second, the Act prohibits employers from discriminating against an employee who is a family violence victim or who participates in civil court proceedings related to a case in which the employee is a victim of family violence. The Act also prohibits discrimination or retaliation against employees who seek or use the leave benefit described above. Employees may file a private cause of action for violation of the Act and recover damages, including attorneys’ fees.

Employers should revise their policies to address this new leave requirement and consider how it may relate to other employee benefits. If you require assistance in revising your policies or have any questions about how the Act may affect your responsibilities as an employer, please