The Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) has provided guidance on providing employees pay, leave, and flexibility so they can get the COVID-19 vaccination.
Employer-Mandated Vaccination Programs:
In the guidance, the IDOL says that when employers require employees to get vaccinated, the time employees spend meeting the requirement generally must be paid, even if it occurs during non-work hours. The IDOL says mandatory vaccination requirements should be combined with paid leave for employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, or the employer should otherwise provide compensation for the time taken by the employee to comply with an employer-mandated vaccine requirement.
Optional Vaccination Programs:
Employees that choose to obtain the vaccine voluntarily should be allowed to utilize sick leave, vacation time, or other paid time off so they can receive the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the guidance. Otherwise, employers should consider offering flex time to allow the employee to become vaccinated without losing pay. If the employer decides against both of those options, the employer should provide unpaid time off, the IDOL says.
The Illinois Employee Sick Leave Act (ESLA) requires employers to allow their employees to use employer-provided sick leave benefits for absences due to, among other things, medical appointments of the employee's child, stepchild, spouse, domestic partners, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparents, or stepparent. The leave must be provided on the same terms upon which the employee is able to use personal sick leave benefits for their own illness or injury.
An appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine would qualify as a permissible medical appointment for purposes of the ESLA if the employer allows the use of an employee's sick leave benefits for purposes of vaccinations, according to the IDOL. Therefore, employers should allow the employee to use sick leave benefits when taking a covered family member to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
The IDOL recommends that employers review and amend their leave and vaccination policies to help encourage employees to obtain the COVID-19 vaccine. Keep in mind that employers that provide paid leave so employees may receive the COVID-19 vaccine may be entitled to a tax credit under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, as amended by the American Rescue Plan Act. Please contact your dedicated service professional with any questions.