Illinoisans could soon have the legal right to use their own sick days to care for their kids or parents.

The Illinois House of Representatives approved a plan to require employers to allow their employees to use sick days to take care of immediate family members.

State Rep. Andrew Skoog, D-Peru, said his proposal doesn't give anyone extra days off. He said sick days are in addition to vacation time and personal days, as well as any federal Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, time.

“Since you've worked and you've earned it, why can't you use that for a loved one?” Skoog asked lawmakers. “It's your sick time. You earned it.”

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But state Rep. Peter Breen, R-Lombard, said that's not how sick time works. “The whole point of sick leave is for the sickness of the employee,” Breen said. “So they can get healthy and come back.”

Skoog said some workers use all of their time when a serious illness strikes their family.
“If you have a cancer patient ... and you're already out of your FMLA, wouldn't you want to be with your father while he's dying?” Skoog asked.

State Rep. Ron Sandack, R-Downers Grove, said many bosses already offer that flexibility. He said the state doesn't need to interfere.

“It's going to discourage employers from having sick leave policies that can be stretched too thin,” Sandack said. “This is in the category of well-intended, but not well-thought-through.”

Illinois senators will debate the idea next.

(Copyright WBGZ /