May 20, 2021
Illinois and Chicago update sick leave requirements to include time off for COVID-19 vaccines
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker signed into law H.B. 158 that, effective April 27, 2021, extends coverage under the state's Employee Sick Leave Act (ESLA) to include stepchildren and expands the circumstances under which employees must be allowed to take sick leave.
Additionally, the Illinois Department of Labor and the city of Chicago have addressed the requirements governing time off for COVID-19 vaccines.
The Illinois Employee Sick Leave Act
The ESLA (820 ILCS 191.1-99), which took effect January 1, 2017, requires that Illinois employersallow employees to use at least a portion of the sick leave time that is already available to them, under certain existing employer policies, for absences due to an illness, injury, or medical appointment of a family member on the same terms the employee is able to use sick leave benefits for the employee's own illness or injury.
With the enactment of H.B. 158, a family member is now defined as an employee's child, stepchild, spouse, domestic partner, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent, or stepparent.
Under prior law, sick leave was required to be provided for a family member's personal illness, injury, or medical appointment. H.B. 158 adds that employees must also be given time off for a family member's personal care, defined as activities to ensure that a covered family member's basic medical, hygiene, nutritional, or safety needs are met, or to provide transportation to medical appointments for a covered family member who is unable to meet those needs himself or herself. Personal care also means being physically present to provide emotional support to a covered family member with a serious health condition who is receiving inpatient or home care.
The Department provides frequently asked questions (FAQs) to explain the requirements under the ESLA. (Note that at the time we issued this alert, the FAQs were not yet updated to reflect the changes under H.G. 158.)
Illinois guidance on time off for vaccines
In March 2021, the Department issued guidance on the requirements for time off for COVID-19 vaccines as follows.
The Department recommends that employers review their leave and vaccination policies and revise accordingly to provide leave, time, and flexibility in order to encourage employees to obtain the first and second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Chicago guidance on time off for vaccines
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced in a recent press release that the City Council passed an ordinance establishing protections for Chicago workers taking time off for the COVID-19 vaccine as follows:
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