Illinois DOL Guides Employers on Vaccines

Author: Robert S. Teachout, XpertHR Legal Editor

March 18, 2021

If an employer requires an employee to get a COVID-19 vaccination, the time the employee spends obtaining the vaccine - including nonworking time - is likely compensable under the Illinois Minimum Wage Law (IMWL) and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), according to guidance from the Illinois Department of Labor.

According to the guidance, employers should include paid leave for employees to receive the first and second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in combination with any mandatory vaccination requirement. If they do not provide paid leave, employers should otherwise provide compensation for the time employees take to comply with the mandated vaccine requirement.

The IDOL guidance also encourages employers to allow employees who get the vaccine voluntarily to use paid sick leave, vacation leave or other paid time off (PTO). If an employer chooses not to allow the use of PTO, the state DOL asks employers to consider approving the use of flextime so that employees can be vaccinated without having to take unpaid time off. Employers that cannot offer either option are asked to be flexible in otherwise scheduling work to allow their workers to take unpaid time off to be vaccinated.

In addition, the guidance reminds employers that under the Illinois Employee Sick Leave Act (ESLA), employees are entitled to use employer-provided sick leave benefits for absences due to family members' medical appointments on the same terms that the employees may use the leave for their own illness or injury. An appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine first dose or second dose would qualify as a permissible medical appointment for purposes of the ESLA, the IDOL guidance states. Therefore, employers must provide employees leave in order to take a family member to receive a vaccination.