School Employee Benefit and Wage Protection Bill passes both legislative chambers, heads to governor’s desk

House Bill 2778 creates COVID administrative days for school employees and includes paycheck protection for hourly employees.

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Education Association (IEA) worked with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to ensure the passage of House Bill 2778 (HB2778), the School Employee Benefit and Wage Protection Bill, during Veto Session at the Capitol. House Bill 2778 passed the Illinois House 92 to 23 and the Illinois Senate 53 to one.

“Our members took action and made more than 1500 phone calls to lawmakers in the past few days. Our voices were heard, and we’d like to thank everyone who voted for this bill, which recognizes and respects teachers and support staff.” IEA President Kathi Griffin said. “There is a growing teacher and support staff shortage in our state and we should be doing everything we can to keep experienced educators in our schools. This bill will do just that.”

HB 2778 will:

  • Require districts provide COVID administrative days to any school or college employees to be used for all COVID-related absences like quarantining and testing, so employees will not have to use all of their accrued benefit time during the pandemic.
  • Provide paycheck protection for hourly employees. This means if a school or higher education institution has to close because of an emergency, hourly employees would still receive their full paycheck.

“All our education employees have stepped up during the COVID-19 pandemic. We know it’s been an incredibly difficult time, but they continue to show up and do whatever it takes to provide our students an outstanding public education,” Rep. Janet Yang Rohr said. “I am proud to sponsor this legislation that provides some relief to teachers and support staff.”

The legislation benefits both staff and students.

“This is about doing what’s right for our hard-working school employees, but also what’s best for our students. Currently, our educators and school employees are exhausting their sick time when they must quarantine because of COVID-19. Many students are too young to be vaccinated, which makes quarantining even more important for our students’ safety,” Griffin said. “And in cases of teachers who are in the beginning of their careers, we are seeing them run out of their accrued sick leave and instead of losing their income, they choose to go to work sick or leave the profession to find another job. Both of these options cause harm to students. We want what’s best for all – to keep students in school and keep everyone safe. This is a big step toward helping with that.”

School districts can use Elementary and Secondary Education School Relief (ESSER) dollars to fund HB 2778. The state of Illinois received $5 billion in ESSER funds.

“We are so pleased that our hourly employees will continue to get a paycheck in the event a school or college should need to close for COVID-19-related reasons. These employees are working in adverse conditions and should not have to put their family’s financial health at risk if a school needs to pause in-person instruction for health and safety concerns,” Griffin said.



At 135,000 members strong, the Illinois Education Association (IEA) is the largest union in Illinois. The IEA represents PreK-12 teachers outside the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty and support staff, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide. 

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