NEW LAW: Starting January 1st Illinois Service Member Employment and Reemployment Rights Act to Protect Illinois’ Military Service Members

Earlier this year, Illinois governor Bruce Rauner signed the Illinois Service Member Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (ISERRA) (Public Act 100-1101) into law. This law, which goes into effect on January 1, 2019, streamlines and expands the various job-related protections afforded to Illinois service members.

Most importantly, the ISERRA repeals the following statutes:

  • Military Leave of Absence Act,
  • Public Employee Armed Services Rights Act,
  • Municipal Employees Military Active Duty Act, and
  • Local Government Employees Benefits Continuation Act

And consolidates the protections afforded under these statutes into the new law.  The only law not consolidated into the ISERRA, the Illinois Family Military Leave Act, which family members of a service member with protected leave under certain circumstances*, remains intact.

The bulk of the new ISERRA is modeled after the federal USERRA, there are a few additional protections to Illinois service members under the new state law.  Specifically:

  • The definition of “military service” was expanded to include the following:
    • Service in a federally recognized auxiliary of the United States Armed Forces when performing official duties in support of military or civilian authorities as the result of an emergency
    • Service covered by the Illinois State Guard Act
    • A period during which service members are absent from employment for medical or dental treatment related to a condition, illness, or injury sustained or aggravated during a period of active service
  • The new law provides service members who are on military leave with special consideration for performance reviews that occur during the employee’s absence. The service member must be    credited with the average of the efficiency or performance ratings or evaluations received for the 3 years immediately before the absence for military leave. Additionally, the rating shall not be less than the rating that he or she received for the rated period immediately prior to his or her absence on military leave.
  • The new law creates an “ISERRA Advocate” in the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.  This official is required to assist both service members and employers with questions about service members’ protections under the statute.
  • Finally, a new poster relating to ISERRA must be posted in the workplace. The new poster is available here.

It is recommended that all Illinois employers review their obligations under this new law.

* Under the Illinois Family Military Leave Act, family members of a service member with up to 15 or up to 30 days of unpaid leave when that service member is called to military service lasting more than 30 days.  The amount of leave available depends on the employer’s size.