A new Chicago ordinance prohibits employers from retaliating or taking any action against workers who take time off to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Chicago City Council passed the ordinance Wednesday, building on the city's COVID-19 Anti-Retaliation Ordinance passed last May to protect employees from any retaliatory action if they are unable to work due to public health orders or COVID-related illness.
The update passed last week prohibits employers in Chicago from taking any adverse action, including termination, demotion, layoff or punitive schedule changes, against employees for taking time off to get the COVID vaccine. Employers also cannot require workers to get vaccinated only during non-shift hours, the city says.
If an employer requires a staff member to get the vaccine, they must pay the employee their regular rate of pay for up to four hours per dose and cannot force the employee to get the vaccine outside their regular shift.
Employers who do not require workers to get the vaccine must allow workers that have paid sick leave to use that time to get the vaccine if they choose to do so under the new ordinance.
Any employer that violates the ordinance, enforced by the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, is subject to fines between $1,000 and $5,000 per offense, the city says.
“Our essential workers have kept this city running throughout the pandemic, and as we near the end of the crisis, no worker should have to choose between keeping their job and getting the COVID-19 vaccine,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement. “Widespread vaccination is core to our ability to overcome this pandemic and vaccinating our workers are a critical part of that effort."
Chicago opened eligibility to receive the vaccine to all residents over the age of 16 on April 19.