Countless family caregivers struggle with balancing the pressures of providing care for their loved ones while at the same time meeting the demands of their jobs. They are often stressed, overwhelmed and exhausted. But at least in Illinois, help is on the way through legislation that will allow working caregivers to use their existing personal sick leave to care for their loved ones.
House Bill 6162, sponsored by State Rep. Andrew F. Skoog (D-Peru), passed the House of Representatives with strong bipartisan support and a veto-proof vote of 78-35. The legislation is now on its way to the State Senate.
“Family caregivers take on huge responsibilities and are stressed to the limit taking care of their loved ones while trying to stay employed,” said AARP Illinois State Director, Bob Gallo. “This bill is common-sense legislation that will provide urgently needed help to caregivers, while also making business sense by improving employee morale and reducing turnover.”
Sixty percent of Illinois caregivers are working, 56% of who work full time; six in 10 caregivers report having to make work accommodations because of caregiving duties, including cutting back on hours, changing jobs, or quitting work entirely.
The key provisions of HB 6162 include:
- Defines family member broadly to reflect the reality of the caregiving situation;
- Allows employees to use 6 months of accrued sick leave benefits for a family member’s illness, injury or medical appointment;
- Provides that all of an employer’s conditions and policies around sick leave benefits continue to apply, and;
- Provides that this flexibility does not change employee rights under FMLA, state family leave law, or employer’s disability plan.