Villa floorSPRINGFIELD – Effective Jan. 1, individuals that lose a child to suicide or homicide have the right to extended bereavement leave thanks to a new law championed by State Senator Karina Villa establishing the Zachary’s Parent Protection Act.

After Laura Kane lost her son, Zachary, to suicide, she was expected to return to work just three days later. Her story inspired the law to protect grieving families from being put in the same situation.

“Losing a child is one of the most difficult experiences an individual can face especially when the child’s life was lost too soon to suicide or homicide,” said Villa (D-West Chicago). “It is necessary to provide individuals suffering such an immense loss with a suitable amount of time to cope.”

Senate Bill 2034 –also known as Zachary’s Parent Protection Act – provides extended bereavement leave to employees who have lost a child to suicide or homicide for twelve weeks of unpaid leave if employed by a business with at least 250 workers and six weeks of unpaid leave for businesses with less than 250 employees. The act also establishes penalties for employers who violate the act and protects employees from unfair treatment by providing that employees who take leave will not be entitled to any more benefits than they would have had they not taken such leave.

“Parents should be allotted the proper amount of time to grieve such a terrible loss to focus on healing and take care of their mental wellbeing after a traumatic event instead of worrying about employment-related concerns,” said Villa.

Senate Bill 2034 took effect Jan. 1, 2024.