ILLINOIS FAMILY MILITARY LEAVE ACT
Saw an interesting article in the CBA Record by James F. Costello Jr., the Veteran’s Rights Project Coordinator at the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago. Costello’s article discussed the Illinois Family Military Leave Act[The Act]. The Act is fairly new, having just become effective in 2005. The purpose of the Act is to afford leave to employees who wish to visit with spouses or children who have been called into military duty. The article is an excellent primer on the Act. Some of the important points made by Costello include:
1) Leave is extended only to the spouse or parent of a person called to military service lasting longer than 30 days;
2) Only employers with 15 or more employees are covered;
3) The Act extends only to those employees who have worked at least 1,250 hours in the preceding 12 months;
4) Employers with 15-50 employees are required to provide up to 15 days of leave to the employee;
5) Employers with more than 50 employees are required to provide 30 days of leave;
6) The leave is UNPAID;
7) Eligible employees seeking to utilize the leave must give advance notice to the employer[oral notice is acceptable];
8) Upon return from leave, the employee shall be restored to his/her previous position, or to an equivalent position;
9) Employers are prohibited from discharging, fining, suspending or in any other way interfering with the employee’s right to utilize the leave;
10) Individuals may enforce their rights under the Act by filing suit in the Circuit Court. The only enforcement mechanism however, is injunctive or equitable relief. The Act does not provide for damages.
The Act, as pointed out by Costello, is particularly timely. The Illinois National Guard is presently in the midst of its largest deployment since World War II, with nearly 3000 soldiers scheduled for deployment to Afghanistan to assist with the growing insurgency.