With an express purpose of encouraging employees (and their family members) to get the COVID-19 vaccine, the Illinois Department of Labor (“IDOL”) recently issued guidance for employers regarding compensation and paid leave in connection with absences for vaccine appointments.

According to the IDOL: 

Mandatory Vaccination:  The time an employee spends to get the vaccine, when required to do so by the employer, is “likely compensable,” even if it is non-working time.  Accordingly, employers should:

  • provide paid leave; or
  • otherwise compensate employees for such time.

Voluntary Vaccination: Employers are not required to provide compensation/paid leave for employees to obtain the vaccine when vaccination is not required by the employer; however, employers are encouraged to do so.  Accordingly, employers should:

  • allow employees to use sick leave, vacation time, or other paid leave;
  • consider offering employees “flex” time so that they do not have to take unpaid leave; or
  • allow employees to “flexibility” to take time off unpaid.

Family Vaccination: Under the Illinois Employee Sick Leave Act (effective Jan. 1, 2017), depending on how an employer handles employee use of paid sick leave benefits, the employer may be required to allow employees to use paid sick leave benefits to take certain family members to vaccine appointment.  Accordingly, employers should:

  • decide whether employees will be allowed to use paid sick leave benefits to go to a vaccine appointment; and
  • if yes, then allow employees to use such paid sick leave benefits to take family members – the employee’s child, spouse, domestic partner, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent, or stepparent – to vaccine appointments.

BCLP has assembled a COVID-19 HR and Labor & Employment taskforce to assist clients with labor and employment issues across various jurisdictions. You can contact the taskforce at: COVID-19HRLabour&EmploymentIssues@bclplaw.com.   You can also view other thought leadership, guidance, and helpful information on our dedicated COVID-19 / Coronavirus resources page at https://www.bclplaw.com/en-GB/topics/covid-19/coronavirus-covid-19-resources.html