Illinois: Expanded Leave Protections for Victims of Violent Crimes


All Employers with IL Employees


August 20, 2021


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(888) 378-2456

The Illinois Victim’s Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA) has been amended to offer greater protections for victims of crime, effective August 20, 2021. VESSA provides up to 12 workweeks of job-protected leave during any 12-month period to address domestic, sexual, or gender violence. Key amendments include:

  1. Eligibility for leave. Under the amended statute, employees may take leave if they or a covered family member are a victim of any “crime of violence,” such as homicide, sex offenses, bodily harm, harassing and obscene communications, sexual assault, etc.
  2. The definition of “family or household member.” Previously indicated as spouses, parents, and individuals jointly residing in the same household, this definition was also expanded to include:
    • A person party to a civil union;
    • Grandparent, child, grandchild, sibling, or any other person related to the individual by blood or by present or prior marriage/civil union;
    • Any individual who shares a relationship with the employee through a child; or
    • Or any other individual whose close association with the employee equates a family relationship as determined by the employee.
  3. Documentation. Employers may require employees to provide certification that the employee or applicable covered family/household member is a qualifying victim and that the leave requested is for a covered purpose. Employees may be required to submit a sworn statement as well as a supplementary document as described in VESSA to substantiate a need for leave or inability to return from leave. However, the amended VESSA indicates:
    • Documentation must be provided “if the employee has possession of such document”;
    • Employees, not the employer, choose which document to submit; and
    • Employers may not require more than one document to be submitted during the same 12-month period leave is requested or taken, if related to the same incident(s) of violence or same perpetrator(s) of violence.
  4. Confidentiality. All information submitted to an employer pursuant to VESSA must be kept in the strictest confidence by the employer, and may only be disclosed when consented to in writing by the employee, or if required by applicable federal or state law.

Action Items

  1. Train personnel on the amended leave documentation and management procedures.
  2. Have leave policies updated consistent with the new requirements.
  3. Subscribers can call our HR On-Call Hotline at (888) 378-2456 for further assistance.

Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser.

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