On June 15, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich signed into law the Employee Blood Donation Leave Act (House Bill 324). Under the new law, a full-time employee who has been employed by an employer for at least six months can request up to one hour of paid leave to donate blood. The Act applies to “any unit of local government, board of election commissioners, or any private employer in the State [of Illinois] who has 51 or more employees.”

Employees may request such leave once every 56 days in accordance with appropriate medical standards, but may use the leave only after obtaining approval from their employer. In addition, the Act instructs the Department of Public Health to adopt rules governing blood donation leave that: (1) establish conditions and procedures for requesting and approving leave; and (2) require medical documentation of the proposed blood donation before leave is approved.

In a public statement, Governor Blagojevich noted: “When you, your family member or your loved one has medical trouble, you want to know that there will be enough blood to treat them. We want to make sure that people who are willing to contribute to our emergency blood supply get the opportunity to do it. The Organ Donor Leave Act has been effective in encouraging state employees to donate blood. I believe this will do the same for the private sector and local government employees.”

This is yet another form of state authorized leave for employees in Illinois.  Just two years ago, employees who were victims of domestic or sexual violence and their family members were granted 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Pending legislation in Illinois would provide paid leave for employees to vote, provide leave for the family members of those called to military service, and extend the length of leave granted to parents to attend their children’s school functions.

Appropriate management of leave policies is difficult but important for all employers. Employers with operations in Illinois are encouraged to adopt a written policy for blood donation leave to avoid any misunderstandings and/or disputes. The policy should require written approval from an employee’s supervisor in advance of the day of the donation, and reaffirm that oral approval is not sufficient.  The policy should also require official documentation of the blood donation before compensation is awarded for that time.

Should you have any questions about the new law, please contact the Ogletree Deakins attorney with whom you normally work or the Client Services Department at 800-603-1252 or via e-mail at clientservices@ogletreedeakins.com.

Note: This article was published in the June 21, 2005 issue of the Illinois eAuthority.

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