Chicago recently enacted an ordinance granting employees rights in connection with getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Employers should be aware of these key provisions:
- An employer may not take adverse action against an employee who gets a vaccine during working hours.
- Regardless of whether an employer mandates vaccination, it cannot mandate that employees receive the vaccine during nonworking hours.
- If an employer requires vaccination and the vaccine is administered during the employee’s normal work hours, 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; and (2) cannot require that the employee use paid sick leave or paid time off (“PTO”) to get vaccinated.
- If an employee wants to use any available paid sick leave or PTO to get a vaccine, the employer must allow the employee to use that time.
Violations may result in fines between $1,000 and $5,000 and may also subject employers to further legal action by the Commissioner of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection or the Director of Labor Standards. Employees who experience retaliation may also 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 attorney fees.
Employers should review their current sick leave, PTO and other relevant policies to ensure they comply with the new requirements.