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

HOUSE BILL 12 would expand Family and Medical Leave Act coverage to thousands of education support professionals in Illinois. – Illinois Times photo

Springfield, IL – An Illinois Education Association (IEA)-backed bill to expand coverage of the Family and Medical Leave Act to thousands of education support professionals across the state has passed out of committee and is poised for passage in the Senate.

The legislation, House Bill 12 (HB12), was drafted by the IEA. It has 38 sponsors in the House, and four in the Senate.

“This bill would help those who need it the most. HB12 will lift up our education support staff, knowing they have access to 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. That disqualifies many educational support staff employees such as teaching assistants, paraeducators, secretaries, maintenance workers, bus drivers and cafeteria workers 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 more education support professionals would qualify.

“We currently have a shortage of education support professionals in our schools. COVID helped to exacerbate the problem,” Griffin said.

“These support staff are so important to our children’s education. They support our students every day, some working with our most vulnerable students. 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.”


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