Inspiring HR is happy to provide Monthly State Law Updates as a service to our subscribers. These briefs provide a general description and are not meant to be all inclusive of compliance requirements.
This list is not inclusive of all legislative changes for employers across the U.S. Other changes may have been addressed in previous updates, which can be accessed online on our website www.inspiringhr.com.
Employers are encouraged to work with their Inspiring HR Consultant before making policy changes to capture the full requirements of these laws.
Some of the notable upcoming State Changes in this issue are as follows:
Illinois Provides Employers with Vaccine Leave Guidance
Illinois – Vaccine Leave Guidance – Effective March of 2021
MANDATORY VACCINATION PROGRAMS:
Under the Illinois Minimum Wage Law (IMWL) and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), if an employer requires employees to get vaccinated, the time the employee spends obtaining the vaccine is likely compensable, even if it is non-working time.
Mandatory vaccination requirements by employers should be combined with paid leave for employees to receive the 1st and 2nd dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, or the employer should otherwise provide compensation for the time taken by the employee to comply with an employer-mandated vaccine requirement.
OPTIONAL VACCINATION PROGRAMS:
Employees that choose to obtain the vaccine voluntarily should be allowed to utilize sick leave, vacation time or other paid time off for employees to receive the 1st and 2nd dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Employers that do not choose and are not obligated to provide any paid leave, should consider offering the employee FLEX time to allow the employee to become vaccinated without having to take unpaid time. If the employer does not wish to provide FLEX time, the employer should allow the employee flexibility to take the time off unpaid.
VACCINATION REQUIREMENTS FOR EMPLOYEE’S FAMILY MEMBERS:
The Employee Sick Leave Act (ESLA) requires employers to allow their employees to use employer-provided sick leave benefits for absences due to, among other things, medical appointments of the employee’s child, stepchild, spouse, domestic partners, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparents, or stepparent on the same terms upon which the employee is able to use personal sick leave benefits for their employee’s own illness or injury.
An appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine 1st dose or 2nd dose will qualify as a permissible medical appointment for purposes of the ESLA if the employer allows the use of an employee’s sick leave benefits for purposes of vaccinations. Therefore, employers should allow the use of sick leave benefits by an employee for purposes of the employee taking a qualifying family member to receive the 1st dose or 2nd dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
In order to promote health and safety in the workplace, the Illinois Department of Labor recommends that employers review their leave and vaccination policies and revise accordingly to provide leave, time, and flexibility in order to encourage employees to obtain the 1st dose and 2nd dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
New York mandates Paid Time Off for COVID-19 Vaccinations
NY – Vaccine Paid Time Off – Effective 3/12/2021
New York employers are now required to provide employees with paid time off for COVID-19 vaccination under the following guidelines:
- All employees are eligible to receive up to four (4) hours of Paid Time Off per vaccine injection; up to eight (8) hours total. This leave is in addition to any other paid time off and/or paid sick leave.
- The time off must be paid at the employee’s regular rate of pay.
- Employers are prohibited from requiring employees to use any other available paid time off and/or sick leave before providing leave under this law.
In addition to the paid time off requirement, the new law prohibits discrimination or retaliation against any employee who exercises their rights under the law.
At this time, it is unclear whether employees who have already used company-provided or mandated paid sick time to obtain the vaccine might be entitled to reinstatement of that time. We anticipate guidance from the NY Dept of Labor may clarify this question.
This law remains in effect until December 31, 2022.
Pennsylvania – Philadelphia expands Background Check Restrictions
Philadelphia – Background Check Changes – Effective 3/21/2021
In addition to federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and Pennsylvania’s statewide Criminal History Record Information Act (CHRIA), Philadelphia also maintains local ordinances restricting employers’ use of criminal records and credit histories in employment screening. Bill No. 200479 will expand specific restrictions on background screenings.
The expansion includes the following changes:
- The definition of a “covered employee” now covers any person employed or permitted to work at or for a private employer within the geographic boundaries of the city including, an independent contractor, transportation network company driver, rideshare driver or other gig economy worker.
- A covered “private employer” also includes any third-party person or entity that facilitates the relationship of work for pay between two other parties, as full-time or part-time employees or as independent contractors.
- In the past, federal, state and local restrictions of criminal records and credit histories were only specific to “applicants” in employment screenings. The restrictions now include all applicants and current employees.
- Philadelphia’s credit ban law, which makes employment credit screenings off-limits for most employers and jobs, previously exempted “any law enforcement agency or financial institution” from its restrictions. The expanded law removes this exemption from the credit ban and now includes law enforcement agencies and financial institutions to conduct credit screenings as long as the purpose to obtain an applicant’s or employee’s credit information is in pursuant to state or federal law or where the job requires an employee to be bonded under city, state or federal law.
Employers must be aware of the expansion of these laws and how the laws affect their business.
This article does not constitute legal advice and there are subtle variations in employment law as it pertains to this topic, depending on where your business operates. It is strongly suggested that you seek consultation or legal counsel before making decisions about policies.