Chicago recently passed an ordinance outlining employees’ rights and employers’ obligations in connection with getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Employers should be aware of these key provisions of the ordinance:
- Regardless of whether an employer mandates vaccination, the employer cannot mandate that if any employee gets a vaccine, the vaccine must be administered during nonworking hours.
- An employer cannot take adverse action against an employee who gets a vaccine during working hours.
- If an employee wants to use any paid sick leave or PTO available to them to get a vaccine, the employer must allow the employee to use that time.
- If an employer requires vaccination, the employer (1) must compensate the employee for the time taken to get the vaccine, up to four hours at the employee’s regular rate of pay, if the vaccine is administered during the employee’s normal working hours, and (2) cannot require that the employee use paid sick time or PTO to get vaccinated.
Employers who violate the ordinance can be fined between $1,000 and $5,000 and may also be subject to further legal action by the Commissioner of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection or the Director of Labor Standards. Additionally, employees who experience retaliation in violation of the ordinance may file a civil action and may be entitled to reinstatement, damages of three times the full amount of wages that would have been owed absent the retaliatory action, costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees.
Employers should review their current sick leave, PTO and other relevant policies to ensure they comply with the new requirements.