New Chicago Ordinance Allows Workers to Take Time Off to Receive the COVID-19 Vaccine

Stokes Wagner

On April 21, 2021, the City of Chicago passed the “Vaccine Anti-Retaliation Ordinance,” which allows all workers in Chicago—including independent contractors—to get vaccinated during their work hours. The Ordinance went into effect immediately on April 21, 2021, and applies to employers of any size in the City of Chicago.

Under the Ordinance, employers may not terminate, discipline, or take any adverse action against a worker for taking time off to receive the vaccine. Employers also may not require workers to get vaccinated only during their off hours. This applies even if a worker is voluntarily getting the vaccine, regardless of the company’s policy or stance on the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Ordinance also imposes certain employee pay requirements. If an employer requires their workers to receive the vaccine, the employer must pay them at their regular rate of pay for up to four (4) hours per dose. If an employer does not require their workers to receive the vaccine, they must allow workers to use any accrued paid sick leave if the worker chooses to use it.

The City Office of Labor Standards will enforce the Ordinance and impose significant penalties for employer violations. Employers are subject to fines that may range from $1,000 to $5,000 per violation. Individuals may also sue in court for remedies, including reinstatement and triple damages.

The City of Chicago recently published this optional notice for employers. Employers should consider this Ordinance when reviewing or creating policies regarding the COVID-19 vaccine and worker time-off requests.

For a printable PDF of this article, click here.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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