ROCKFORD, Ill. – Today, the Illinois General Assembly passed Zachary's Parent Protection Act (SB2034), legislation that will require employers to provide additional unpaid leave for parents who experience the sudden loss of a child by suicide or homicide.
Under the legislation, employees of large employers are entitled to use a maximum of 12 weeks of unpaid leave and employees of small employers are entitled to use a maximum of 6 weeks of unpaid leave. Currently, parents are only entitled to use a maximum of 2 weeks (10 work days) of unpaid bereavement leave after the loss of a child.
“The pain and suffering experienced by parents who lose a child is unimaginable, and no one should be forced to choose between their grief and their employment in their darkest hours,” State Rep. Maurice West (D-Rockford), chief sponsor of Zachary’s Parent Protection Act. “Parents who lose their children to suicide or homicide deserve grace and respect from their employers, and Zachary’s Parent Protection Act will hopefully provide some small measure of relief in the immediate aftermath of such a tragic event. I extend my sincerest gratitude to Laura Kane, Zachary’s mother, for her tireless efforts to pass this critical legislation.”
“As the creator of this bill, this is very bittersweet, because I am the mother who lost her 14-year-old son to suicide. I was let go from my employment due to being unable to perform my duties to my employers expectation as a result of the trauma and grief I was suffering following the sudden loss of my son.” said Laura Kane, Executive Director of Marshmallow’s HOPE. “This bill will give families the job protection they deserve during this type of crisis. I truly hope no one has to use this, but in the event they find themselves in these circumstances, the bill will provide protection in what may be their darkest hours. This bill is written in memory of my son Zachary, and it is my way to honor the many survivor parents I have met in this journey, and for that, I am grateful.”
The bill passed the Illinois House of Representatives by a vote of 81 to 24 and the Illinois Senate by a vote of 42 to 10. The legislation now goes to Gov. JB Pritzker for his signature before being enacted into law.