Villa passes bill to support grieving families

SPRINGFIELD – When Laura Kane lost her son, Zachary, to suicide, she was still expected to return to work merely three days later. To help support families grieving the loss of a child and ensure no one else is put in the same situation, State Senator Karina Villa advanced legislation out of the Senate that will create Zachary’s Parent Protection Act.

“My heart goes out to all of those who have ever grieved over the unthinkable happening and had to bear the loss of their child,” said Villa (D-West Chicago). “This legislation attempts to offer support to families who are grieving by allowing them the proper time to themselves after a loss.”

Kane was let go due to not being able to perform her job while grieving the loss of her child. She started a nonprofit, Marshmallow’s Hope, in honor of her son and to help children struggling with depression and families coping with the loss of a child due to suicide.

Senate Bill 2034 provides extended bereavement leave to employees who have lost a child to suicide or homicide: up to 12 weeks unpaid leave for larger businesses with at least 250 workers and six weeks unpaid leave for smaller businesses with fewer than 250. It also provides penalties against employers who violate the act and provides that employees who take leave will not be entitled to any more benefits than they would have had they not taken such leave.

“Loss and grief have no right answer or solution, however my hope is this bill will provide individuals with some relief knowing they do not have to worry about losing their jobs when focusing on their families,” Villa said. “This bill addresses loss to homicide or suicide. If you or someone you know might be suffering from suicidal thoughts, you can call the suicide and crisis lifeline by dialing 988.”

Senate Bill 2034 passed the Senate and now heads to the House floor.