Updates on cases, laws, and other topics of interest to local governments

Subscribe by Email

Enter your Email:
Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Subscribe in a Reader

Follow Municipal Minute on Twitter


Blog comments do not reflect the views or opinions of the Author or Ancel Glink. Some of the content may be considered attorney advertising material under the applicable rules of certain states. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Please read our full disclaimer

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Illinois Supreme Court Interprets Sick Leave Statute for Birth of Child

Last week, the Illinois Supreme Court issued a ruling providing guidance to school districts on how to apply section 24-6 of the Illinois School Code relating to sick leave for teachers who give birth at the end of the school year. Dynak v. Board of Education of Wood Dale School District.

A full-time teacher in a school district had notified the district that she was due to give birth on June 6th, the day before the end of the school year. She requested to use 1.5 days of accumulated sick leave on June 6th and 7th. She also requested to use 12 weeks of FMLA leave beginning on August 18th (the first day of the following school year) and 28.5 days of paid sick leave in conjunction with the FMLA leave. The district allowed her to use the 1.5 days of leave in June, but denied her request to use paid sick leave in conjunction with FMLA leave beginning on August 18th. The district supported its denial by informing her that she was not eligible to use sick leave or FMLA leave 10 weeks after the birth unless additional circumstances existed that qualified for that leave.

The teacher sued the district and the case made its way to the Illinois Supreme Court. The teacher argued that section 24-6 of the School Code does not specify that paid sick leave for birth must be continuous, when it must begin, or whether it must be completed within a certain amount of time after the birth. 

The Supreme Court first looked at how an intervening summer break affects a teacher’s right under section 24-6 of the School Code to use accumulated paid sick leave after the birth of a child. In the Court's view, the only reasonable way to interpret the statute’s allowance of sick leave for personal illness, quarantine at home, or serious illness or death in the immediate family or household is that the sick leave must be contemporaneous with the event. The Court noted that the provision requiring a teacher to provide a medical certificate after an absence of three days for personal illness was clear evidence that the legislature did not intend for sick leave to be separated in time from the actual illness. The Court further held that there was no evidence in the statute that the legislature intended to create a vested right in an employee to take paid sick leave on any days the employee chooses. 

The Court concluded that "[i]n the same way that sick leave for illness may not be disconnected in time from the illness, sick leave for birth may not be disconnected in time from the birth." As a result, under section 24-6, teachers may use up to 30 days of accumulated paid sick leave during the six-week period immediately following the birth. But, once that six-week period has elapsed, a teacher cannot use paid sick days for birth unless the teacher provides a physician’s certificate as required by the statute. So, the teacher was not entitled to use any paid sick leave for “birth” at the beginning of the school year when the birth took place at the end of the previous school year. 


Post a Comment