Illinois Department of Labor: Public employers comply with state vaccine rules, private employers comply with federal rules

Illinois Department of Labor

Rules filed Friday by the Illinois Department of Labor require vaccines or testing mandates for employers of more than 100 employees.

Monday was the deadline for large employers to provide their vaccine or testing mandate policies to the federal government.

The fate of the mandates remains uncertain.

During Friday’s oral arguments in the case where private business groups are challenging federal vaccine or testing mandates, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts asked what authority the federal government has in such decisions.

“Why doesn’t Congress have a say in this, and why doesn’t this be the primary responsibility of the states?” Roberts asked.

Illinois Manufacturers’ Association President and CEO Mark Denzler said employers support vaccines, but vaccine or testing mandates will send ripples across the economy.

“We’re getting dozens of phone calls a week from companies about how to comply with this,” Denzler said. “It’s costly, it’s confusing, it’s cumbersome.”

The Illinois Department of Labor published Friday emergency rules requiring vaccines for employers of more than 100 employees. The online publication didn’t provide much clarity for if the mandates are being imposed on the private and public sector, or just the public sector.

Denzler said he got clarity from the state that the mandate is only for the public sector.

“Think your cities and counties and school districts, but not the private sector,” Denzler said. “And they have a little bit different dates. They don’t have to have a plan in place until Jan. 24 and then start testing a little bit later.”

A spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Labor said government employers in Illinois are subject to regulation and enforcement by Illinois OSHA while private employers are subject to enforcement by the federal government.

The department wouldn’t indicate what would happen if the federal rule is struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Rulings on two cases heard Friday, one involving the private sector and another involving mandates on federal contractors, could come at any time.

Illinois’ emergency rule that is set to expire July 24, 2022, could be taken up by the Illinois Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. This week’s JCAR meeting has been rescheduled to Jan. 18.

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