Illinois Adopts OSHA Employer Vaccine Mandate While SCOTUS Considers Federal Mandate

The state's Department of Labor says it "wanted to give businesses time to adjust"

The Illinois Department of Labor move to adopt the regulations set out in the federal COVID-19 vaccine and testing mandate for companies with more than 100 employees.

The move followed oral arguments presented in the Supreme Court debating the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s power to enforce the mandate, which President Biden proposed in November of 2021.

Under O.S.H.A.’s COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard, companies with more than 100 employees are obligated to require their workers and staff to be fully vaccinated or submit to weekly testing and masking requirements. 

The department said in its statement that that “they will go with whatever the Supreme Court decides and wanted to give businesses time to adjust,” per Fox Illinois.

“In Illinois, State and local government employers are subject to regulation and enforcement by Illinois OSHA; private employers are subject to enforcement by the federal government,” said Paul Cicchini, a spokesman for the department. “This Emergency Temporary Standard is scheduled to expire July 24, 2022.”

According to the IL.D.O.L. website, the peremptory rules cannot be appealed or challenged. 

Although the rules are effective immediately, employers have until Jan. 24 to comply with the requirements set by Biden’s mandate.

Employers must have an established policy on vaccines and determine their employees’ vaccination statutes with proof by Feb. 24. They are also obligated to assist employee vaccination and keep records of vaccination status.

Under the regulations, employers have to require anyone who tests positive for the virus to disclose that information and keep them from the workplace.

Unvaccinated employees who are in the workplace at least once a week have to get COVID-19 tested each week. If they are away from their workplace for more than seven days, they must test negative for COVID-19 before returning. Employers must require unvaccinated employees to wear masks.

The state filed the rules on Jan. 7, the same day the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case challenging Biden’s mandate.  The federal government has argued the mandates are necessary given COVID-19 infection rates. Attorneys representing a consolidated lawsuit challenging the mandate say it is executive overreach. They’ve also cited potentially severe economic consequences should the rules be enforced. 

“If the court reversed the federal mandate, then our rule will also be rescinded,” said Jordan Abudayyeh, a spokesperson for Illinois Governor Pritzker, in a statement. “We just have to match the feds with whatever happens and filing the rule gives people time to plan if it’s upheld.”

Illinois Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, which typically oversees emergency rule-making, meets on Jan. 11.

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