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Illinois Education Association-backed FMLA expansion bill heads to Senate floor

HB12 now moves to the Senate.
Most schools have less than a month left before they release for summer break.
Most schools have less than a month left before they release for summer break.(Source: CNN)
Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 11:18 AM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WIFR) - House Bill 12 passed out of committee and is now poised for passage in the Senate. The legislation was drafted by the Illinois Education Association and would expand coverage of the Family and Medical Leave Act to thousands of education support professionals across the state.

“This bill would help those who need it the most. HB12 will lift up our education support staff, knowing they have access FMLA without the risk of losing their job and health insurance,” IEA President Kathi Griffin said. “Supporting working families is important. FMLA is not just for pregnant mothers. It 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.”

Currently, to be eligible for FMLA an employee must have worked 1,250 hours during the previous year. This disqualifies many educational support staff from meeting the requirements of FMLA due to the limited number of days they are able to work during a school year. HB 12 reduces the minimum threshold to 1,000 hours, so that more education support professionals would qualify for FMLA. Education support professionals are support staff in schools like secretaries, teachers’ aides, paraeducators, maintenance workers, school bus drivers and cafeteria workers, according to the IEA.

“We currently have a shortage of education support professionals in our schools. COVID helped to exacerbate the problem. These support staff are so important to our children’s education. They support our students every day, some working with our most vulnerable students,” Griffin said. “We should be doing everything in our power to attract new hires to the profession and to keep the talented professionals we already have on staff.”

HB12 now moves to the Senate.

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