On August 6, 2021, Governor Pritzker signed House Bill 816, which clarifies the definition of sick leave under section 24-6 of the School Code. Now enacted as P.A. 102-0275, this law has several implications for when teachers and other employees are entitled to use paid sick leave due to the birth, adoption, placement for adoption, or acceptance of a foster child. Of major significance, the amendments make it clear that 30 days of available sick leave may be used at any time within 12 months of the birth and that use of these days is not diminished by intervening breaks or holidays.
The law upends the Illinois Supreme Court ruling in Dynak v. Board of Education Wood Dale School District 7. The Dynak court previously concluded that the School Code allowed teachers to use up to 30 days of accumulated paid sick leave during the six-week period immediately following the birth of a child. Once that six-week period elapsed, the Court said, a teacher could not use paid sick days for birth unless a physician’s note was provided.
The Dynak rule is no more. Under the new law, the use of up to 30 paid sick leave days due to the birth of a child cannot be diminished as a result of any intervening breaks or holidays. Specifically, the law entitles use of up to 30 days of paid sick leave because of the birth of a child that is not dependent on the need to recover from childbirth or the need to provide medical certification, and may be used at any time within the 12-month period following the birth of the child.
The law also clarifies when sick leave can be used for adoption or placement/acceptance of a child in foster care. Sick leave requested due to the adoption, placement for adoption, or acceptance of a foster child does not need to be used consecutively once the formal adoption or foster care process has begun. Sick leave may be used for reasons related to the formal adoption or foster care process prior to and after taking custody or accepting a child in foster care.
P.A. 102-0275 took effect immediately, and there are some ambiguities in the new language, so school districts should consult with legal counsel about implementation.
If you have questions regarding this law or how to implement its requirements moving forward, contact Ellen Rothenberg, Barbara Erickson, or any member of our Labor/Personnel Practice Group.
Source: P.A. 102-0275