Under the Act, leave is allowed only “during the time federal or State deployment orders are in effect ….” 820 Ill. Comp. Stat. 151/10(a, b). The leave cannot be taken before or after a spouse or child’s deployment. The leave allowed is unpaid, and an employee is first required to exhaust “all accrued vacation leave, personal leave, compensatory leave, and any other leave that may be granted to the employee, except sick leave and disability leave.” 820 Ill. Comp. Stat. 151/10(d) (emphasis added).
Employees seeking leave must also give advanced notice to their employers. The *53 notice can be given orally and does not have to be written; however, written notice is always recommended for documentation purposes. The amount of notice required depends on the length of the leave.
Where the leave is for five or more consecutive days, the employee is required to give 14 days notice to the employer. 820 Ill. Comp. Stat. 151/10(c). In addition, the employee should make attempts to consult with the employer to schedule the leave “so as to not unduly disrupt the operations of the employer.” 820 Ill. Comp. Stat. 151/10(c). Where the leave is for less than five consecutive days, the employee shall give the employer such advanced notice as is “practicable.” 820 Ill. Comp. Stat. 151/10(c). What is “practicable” depends on the circumstances. For example, if an employee learns on a Monday evening that her son in the Army will have a three-hour layover at a nearby airport on Thursday afternoon, then is it “practicable” that the employee give notice to her employer on Tuesday morning. It is important to note that the leave requested can be taken in terms of days or even hours, in the case of the previous example.