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Illinois Department of Labor Issues Guidance on Providing Leave for Employees to Get Vaccinated

The Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) has issued March 2021 guidance for employers on “Compensation, Paid Leave and the COVID-19 Vaccine,” advising employers on providing employees with time off and flexibility in order to get the first (and as necessary, the second dose) of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Mandatory Vaccination Programs

The IDOL guidance states that pursuant to the Illinois Minimum Wage Law and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, if an employer requires employees to get vaccinated, then the time the employee spends getting the vaccine “is likely compensable,” even if the employee gets vaccinated during non-working time.

IDOL also advises that mandatory vaccination requirements by employers should be combined with paid leave for employees to receive both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine (if two doses are required). Alternatively, employers should provide compensation for the time taken by employees in order to comply with the employer’s mandatory vaccine requirement.

Optional Vaccination Programs

If employees choose to obtain the vaccine voluntarily, IDOL advises that they “should be allowed to use sick leave, vacation time or other paid time off” to receive the vaccine.

The guidance states that employers that do not provide paid leave should consider offering FLEX time so that employees can become vaccinated without having to take unpaid time off.  If the employer does not choose to provide FLEX time, then the employer “should allow the employee flexibility to take the time off unpaid” to get vaccinated.

Vaccination Requirements for Employee’s Family Members

Under the Illinois Employee Sick Leave Act, employers are required to allow their employees to use employer-provided sick leave benefits for absences due to, among other things, medical appointments of family members on the same terms that employees are able to use personal sick leave benefits for their own illnesses or injuries. The IDOL guidance clarifies that an appointment to receive a COVID-19 vaccine dose would qualify as a permissible medical appointment for purposes of the law if the employer allows the use of an employee’s sick leave benefits for vaccination purposes. As a result, IDOL advises that employers allow the use of sick leave benefits by employees for those taking qualifying family members to receive their COVID-19 vaccination doses.

IDOL recommends that employers review their leave and vaccination policies and revise accordingly to provide leave, time, and flexibility for employees to obtain the first and second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Finally, although not mentioned in this latest IDOL guidance, Illinois employers should continue to carefully review applicable state and local Covid-19 workplace guidance, especially now that we are entering a new phase and employers are starting to prepare for a wider reopening.

©2022 Epstein Becker & Green, P.C. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 67

About this Author

Peter Steinmeyer, Labor Attorney, Epstein Becker Law Firm

PETER A. STEINMEYER is a Member of the Firm in the Labor and Employment practice of Epstein Becker Green and serves as the Chicago office Managing Shareholder. Practicing in all aspects of labor and employment law, he is also Co-Chair of the firm's Non-Competes, Unfair Competition and Trade Secrets Practice Group.

Mr. Steinmeyer advises clients on the enforcement and drafting of non-compete, non-solicitation, and employment agreements, litigates trade secret, non-compete, non-solicitation, raiding, and other restrictive covenant matters in...

Kellie Y. Chen Employment, Labor & Workforce Management Attorney Epstein Becker & Green Chicago, IL

KELLIE Y. CHEN is an Associate in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the Chicago office of Epstein Becker Green. She focuses on litigation matters, primarily assisting employers with disputes involving employment law and counseling them on related compliance issues.

Ms. Chen’s experience includes:

  • Defending employers in complex labor and employment litigation matters involving single-employee discrimination claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), the Illinois Human Rights Act, the Americans with...