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Gov. Pritzker Signs Legislation Expanding Access to Family and Medical Leave for Educational Support Staff

Press Release - Tuesday, August 10, 2021

CHICAGO - Building on efforts to protect the wellbeing of education professionals and their families, Governor JB Pritzker signed House Bill 12 into law which expands access to family and medical leave for educational support staff in school districts, public universities, and community colleges.

"It's enormously important to ensure that all of Illinois' education professionals have not only what they need to support the students and families they serve, but also to care for themselves and their own families, too," said Governor JB Pritzker. "That's why I'm proud to be signing an expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act that will cover thousands of education support professionals across the state. This is another way Illinois is shaping our policies to reflect our values - a critical aspect of ensuring ours is a state where all working families can thrive."

HB 12 will allow a school district, public university, or community college district employee who has been employed for at least 12 months and who has worked at least 1,000 hours in the previous 12-month period to be eligible for family and medical leave under the same terms and conditions as the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993. Previously, an employee must have worked 1,250 hours during the previous year.

This change will benefit educational support staff, such as secretaries, teachers' aides, paraeducators, maintenance workers, school bus drivers and cafeteria workers. These workers are often unable to meet the past requirement of 1,250 hours due to the limited number of days they are able to work during a school year.

While family and medical leave is more widely known for its use to care for a newborn, adopted or foster child, FMLA can also be used if an employee needs time to recuperate from a serious health condition, care for a family member with a serious health condition, or care for a family member who has sustained injuries while on active service duty for the military.

"The ability to take family or medical leave is a right and not a privilege," said Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton. "This legislation is about compassion in policy making because it is important that everyone has access to leave that allows for selfcare or the care of a loved one. Extending the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to include education support professionals across the state gives these essential workers the support they need and deserve."

"Our educators and school staff work on the frontlines every day to provide a quality education for our youth and deserve their leave with no strings attached," said State Senator Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago). "This law commits to protecting the health of our teachers, staff and students."

"Our hardworking support professionals are the unsung heroes and heroines of our educational system," said State Representative Terra Costa Howard (D-Glen Ellyn). "By signing HB 12 into law, Governor Pritzker is making sure that the people who keep our schools running smoothly have fair access to FMLA when they face illness and other life-changing events in their families."

"We thank Representative Costa-Howard and Senator Villivalam for shepherding this legislation. It received overwhelming bipartisan support in both chambers of the General Assembly. Having this bill signed by Governor Pritzker today shows the respect and care that all of you have for others. You have made a positive impact on the lives of thousands of Illinoisans and we; the 135,000 members of the Illinois Education Association thank you," said Illinois Education Association (IEA) President Kathi Griffin.

HB 12 is effective January 1, 2022.

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