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AARP: Illinois' Working Caregivers Need Sick Leave Reforms

The majority of Illinois caregivers work full-time, and some lawmakers want to give them more sick leave flexibility. (iStockphoto)
The majority of Illinois caregivers work full-time, and some lawmakers want to give them more sick leave flexibility. (iStockphoto)
March 21, 2016

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Thousands of Illinois residents are taking care of loved ones while also working at jobs, and state senior advocates are backing a move to give these caregivers more flexibility to use their sick leave.

State lawmakers are considering the Eligible Leave for Employee Caregiving Time (ELECT) Act.

Gerardo Cardenas, communications director for AARP Illinois, says the act would allow working caregivers to use their existing personal sick leave to care for an aging spouse or family member.

"The needs of caregiving imposes a tremendous pressure on them, in terms of figuring out how to take care of a loved one, while taking care of their responsibilities at the workplace," he points out.

According to a recent AARP poll, a majority of caregivers reported having to change jobs to stay employed while juggling the demands of family care.

Currently, most Illinois employers allow workers to take sick days only for their own illnesses.

More than half of Illinois' 1.5 million caregivers also work full-time.

Cardenas says by allowing more flexibility in using sick leave, House Bill 6162 could help businesses retain good employees.

"Also, it makes business sense,” he states. “This is something that can improve employee morale and reduce turnover of quality workers.

“A lot of caregivers have to cut hours because they need to take care of a loved one."

Democratic State Rep. Andrew Skoog introduced the bill last month. So far, the idea has earned support from 11 other House Democrats and Republican John Anthony.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - IL