(The Center Square) – As large employers hold out for what the decision will be from the U.S. Supreme Court on President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine or testing mandate, larger Illinois municipalities are working to comply with the emergency rule.
The Illinois Department of Labor’s vaccine or testing mandate filed Friday and effective immediately applies to large public sector employers with more than 100 employees.
Illinois Municipal League Executive Director Brad Cole said that will likely be governments of populations of 10,000 or more.
“I think there’s still some overarching questions and you’ll see that’s why the state has allowed about 30 days to actually get in compliance once the rule is effective,” Cole told The Center Square.
One aspect is the availability of tests. Another aspect is the enforcement of documentation.
The emergency temporary rule is in effect now through July 24.
“And of course, all of this then is going to depend on what the United States Supreme Court says,” Cole said.
Illinois’ temporary emergency rule is in effect until July 24. If the federal mandate is struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Illinois Department of Labor says the state rule would be withdrawn. At that point, the state could issue its own rule subject to the normal rule-making process.
One argument against the mandate is it could lead to a flood of retirements or terminations.
Cole said the retention of municipal workers is always a concern. But, the mandate is either to prove vaccine status or test weekly.
“I would hope that people who would not wanna be vaccinated would not object to testing,” Cole said. “If they don’t want to do either one, then that does become an employment issue and a decision that either they or their employer will make.”
There’s also the question of who will enforce things like verifying vaccine documentation.
“Who is going to enforce this? The employer is going to have to enforce this with the employee as far as implementing it, but I assume ultimately it will be the state department of labor,” Cole said.
The rule states where employees are unable to produce acceptable proof of vaccination, a signed and dated statement by the employee must attest to their vaccination status with a declaration, including that they “understand that knowingly providing false information regarding my vaccination status on this form may subject me to criminal penalties.”
Public sector employees caught falsifying their COVID-19 vaccine status could face up to five years in prison.
Employers must maintain a roster of each employee’s vaccine status for possible review by authorized personnel and “the employer’s records of ascertainment of vaccination status for each such person constitute acceptable proof of vaccination.”