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Illinois Adopts OSHA’s Employer Vaccine Mandate

On January 7, 2022, the Illinois Department of Labor filed new rules that adopt OSHA’s COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”).  The rules, which apply to companies with over 100 employees, are effective immediately and “are not open to appeal or challenge,” according to the IDOL website.  Employers under the jurisdiction of Illinois OSHA have until January 24 to start enacting workplace policies that are in line with the federal OSHA mandates regarding COVID-19 vaccinations and testing. Under the new rules, employers with more than 100 employees must have these policies established and fully in practice by February 24.  As such, the ruling by United States Supreme Court regarding the federal enactment of OSHA will have no bearing on Illinois employers.

As set forth by the Rules, on February 24, employers must keep and maintain records of each employee’s vaccination status. Vaccinated employees must submit proof of vaccination for the employer file.  Additionally, employers with over 100 employees must provide support for employee vaccination by providing “each employee information about the ETS; workplace policies and procedures; vaccination efficacy, safety and benefits; protections against retaliation and discrimination; and laws that provide for criminal penalties for knowingly supplying false documentation.” In regard to unvaccinated employees, job providers must “ensure employees who are not fully vaccinated are tested for COVID-19 at least weekly (if in the workplace at least once a week) or within 7 days before returning to work (if away from the workplace for a week or longer).”  Employers must also require face coverings to be worn by all employees not fully vaccinated.

The rules further require that should any employees contract COVID-19, they are required to disclose the diagnosis to their employer, who then must remove that employee from the workplace. The only exception to both the federal and Illinois OSHA ETS requirements are for employees that work remotely.

The new Illinois DOL rules, along with the federal OSHA regulations they mirror, remain contingent upon the outcome of the U.S. Supreme Court rulings on the recent challenges to the federal vaccine mandate.  In the event the Court overturns the federal mandate, the Illinois rules will become invalid.  Should the Court rule the federal vaccine mandate remain, employers with over 100 employees must have fully complied with the January 24 and February 24 deadlines.  Please continue to check this website, as we will continue to monitor and assess this highly important and constantly evolving issue.   However, should you have questions, please contact Michael A. Airdo at 312-506-4480 or [email protected] or Karl E. Hunsicker at 312-506-4488 or [email protected].