In April, 2020 the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) went into effect to require employers to provide employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. On December 31, 2020, these mandatory leave requirements expired and were replaced by a fully refundable tax credit available to employers who voluntarily offered paid leave. These tax credits were available until September 30, 2021 when the FFCRA expired.
However, with the New Year comes a new wave of employment laws aimed to combat COVID-19. On January 7, 2022, the Illinois Department of Labor filed peremptory rules to adopt the Federal OSHA COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard. In short, companies with 100 or more employers must develop, implement, and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy or else subject employees to masking and weekly testing requirements. The new rule will not apply to remote workers.
Although the rule is effective immediately, employers have until January 24, 2022 to develop their compliance procedures and policies, and until February 24, 2022 to implement such policies. Also, employers have until March 25, 2022 to ensure that employees who are not vaccinated are tested for COVID-19 at least weekly (if present at the workplace at least once per week) or within a week of returning to work (if out of the workplace for a week or longer).
Importantly, this rule is contingent on the Supreme Court’s decision over the federal vaccine mandate. Governor Pritzker has said that if the Supreme Court reverses the federal mandate, the Illinois rule will also be rescinded. The rule is currently in place only to afford employers enough time to comply if the federal mandate is upheld.