Chicago bans worker discipline for time to get COVID-19 vaccine

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A new City of Chicago ordinance will prohibit Chicago employers from firing or sanctioning workers who quit their jobs to get vaccinated against COVID-19 during normally scheduled working hours. Chicago City Council unanimously approved the ordinance on April 21, 2021, and the ordinance is effective immediately.

Who does it affect?

Essentially, the ordinance applies to all employers and workers in the city of Chicago, including non-employees who are independent contractors and perform services for a Chicago business. Under the Ordinance, an “employer” means “any natural person, business, trust, partnership, association, joint venture, company or other legal person who retains the services of at least one person for remuneration.” The ordinance defines “worker” as “a person who performs work for an employer, including as an employee or as an independent contractor.”

What are the new rules?

Under the order, whether the COVID-19 vaccine is voluntarily sought or required by the employer, an employer can not require the worker to receive the vaccine only during the worker’s unscheduled working hours. And, if a worker takes time off during the worker’s normally scheduled working hours to get vaccinated against COVID-19, an employer cannot take any adverse action (for example discipline or dismissal) against a worker to do so

Under the order, if a worker has company-provided paid sick leave and / or other company-provided paid leave accumulated or otherwise available, and the worker specifically requests that that time be used for to be vaccinated, the employer must allow the worker to use the paid leave for this purpose.

However, if the employer requires workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, the employer must pay workers for the time, up to four hours. per dose, it is necessary for the worker to be vaccinated, at the worker’s normal rate of pay, but only if the appointment for the vaccine is during normally scheduled working hours. And, if the employer requires workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, the employer cannot require workers to use paid time off and / or sick leave paid by the company (for example under the Chicago Paid Sick Leave Ordinance) for the time needed to get vaccinated.

An employer who takes adverse action, such as disciplinary action or dismissal, against a worker who leaves work during the employee’s normally scheduled working hours to be vaccinated will be deemed to have retaliated against the worker. It is not yet clear how much notice the worker must provide to the employer, if any.

What is the penalty for employers in the event of a violation?

An employer who violates the order is liable to a fine of $ 1,000 to $ 5,000, although it is not clear at this time whether this is a fine per employee or per violation. The Chicago Trade and Consumer Affairs Commissioner or the Director of Labor Standards have the authority to bring an action against the employer by bringing an action in administrative hearings or by asking the attorney for the Chicago Corporation to take legal action against the employer. In addition to the fine, if the employer has dismissed the worker, the worker is entitled to reinstatement in the same or an equivalent position, damages equal to three times the amount of lost wages, as well as damages actual incurred, and costs and attorneys. ‘ fresh.

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