A new twist on bereavement leave has been gaining steam – and companies in Illinois will soon be required to provide it under state law.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker recently signed the Family Bereavement Leave Act, which expands the definition of a “covered family member” under the Child Bereavement Leave Act.
Moreover, the amended legislation also requires companies to provide 10 days of unpaid leave for employees who experience a miscarriage, a stillbirth, an unsuccessful assisted reproductive procedure (e.g., intrauterine insemination), a failed surrogacy agreement, a failed or non-finalized adoption, or a diagnosis affecting fertility. The law stipulates that workers can use this time off to support a spouse or partner experiencing one of the listed losses.
The law goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2023.
Earlier this year, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signed SB 63, known as the Bereavement Leave Act. The legislation — similar to the new Illinois law — provides three days of bereavement leave to city, county, and state employees after a miscarriage or stillbirth. Further, the time off is available to mothers and their spouses/partners. One significant difference: The Utah law provides paid time off.
Cities also support bereavement for such losses
Out-of-the-box ideas like this prompt lots of questions: Who came up with this idea? When did this first start? And what areas of the country are impacted?
- Last fall, the City of Pittsburgh announced that it became the first government in the U.S. to provide up to three days of paid bereavement leave for employees experiencing pregnancy loss. The city’s legislation recognizes that pregnancy loss can occur in several forms, including miscarriage, stillbirth, termination, failed in vitro fertilization procedures, or surrogacy loss.
- Three days later, the Boston City Council passed a similar ordinance expanding its parental leave policy to include up to 12 weeks of paid leave for employees who experience a pregnancy loss due to miscarriage or termination. Under the previous policy, a stillbirth was the only covered pregnancy-related loss.
- The following month, Iowa’s Waterloo City Council unanimously passed a resolution establishing a paid bereavement policy following a pregnancy loss due to miscarriage or stillbirth. The resolution ordered the city’s HR department to craft the policy as well as communicate to employees who suffer a qualifying loss and are eligible to take the time off to grieve.
- A few days later, the City of Portland amended its leave policies to provide three days of paid bereavement leave for employees who experience pregnancy loss, including miscarriages, stillbirths, and other losses, defined as ”any other loss of pregnancy including termination, irrespective of whether deemed medically necessary and loss incurred during fertility treatment.”
Companies adopt similar policies
Some companies have recently started offering compassionate leave policies that provide time for reproductive losses:
- Last fall, Bumble, the global dating app company headquartered in Austin, Texas, announced it made several changes to its leave policy as part of its diversity initiative. Among other things, the company announced a compassionate leave policy that provides 15 days of paid leave following a miscarriage.
- In January, Mintz, a law firm in Boston, announced its Compassionate Leave Policy, which provides 15 days of paid leave after a miscarriage and five days of paid leave after a failed surrogacy, adoption, or fertility treatment.
Pending legislation: More states put comparable bills on the table
Other states are considering similar legislation:
- In Kentucky, 21RS HB 284 would require employers to provide three days of paid bereavement leave to parents following a miscarriage or stillbirth in the third trimester. Updates on pending state legislation in Kentucky are posted on Twitter by automated tweets.
- In New York, AB5231-B would provide paid leave following “any pregnancy outcome,” including recovery from a stillbirth, a miscarriage, or an abortion. The proposed legislation remains active and is expected to take effect 90 days after it is signed into law. Click here to sign up for status alerts on the bill.
In addition, similar legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate last year, but it has not advanced. If the current trend continues at the local level, that might reinvigorate discussions about a federal law requiring companies to provide bereavement leave for reproductive losses. We’ll keep you posted.