Illinois adopts employer vaccine, testing mandate after U.S. Supreme Court calls OSHA rules into question

Illinois Capitol News

President Joe Biden greets Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, from left, Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, at right behind Biden, at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — The Illinois Department of Labor filed new rules on Friday to officially adopt the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for public and private sector employers with more than 100 workers.

According to the federal guidelines, employers must require their workers to show proof of vaccination or wear a mask and submit to testing to enter the workplace. The rules would also order employers to bar workers from the premises if they test positive for COVID-19.

The Illinois Department of Labor filed new rules on Friday to officially adopt the OSHA vaccine or mask and testing mandate.

The Pritzker administration quietly filed the new rule change hours after the conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court questioned the federal government’s legal authority to enforce a mandate over private employers that don’t receive federal funding. If the nation’s high court eventually upholds the federal vaccine and testing mandate, Illinois employers would have until January 24th to develop a workplace policy, and until February 24th to start enforcing the rules. The conservative justices also appeared to suggest states would have more legal authority to enact workplace vaccine policies than the federal government.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration policy would not apply to employees who work remotely. A state website said the emergency policies are scheduled to expire on July 24th, 2022, though the state has extended several emergency policies throughout the pandemic.

While the Supreme Court suggested states could have more legal authority to implement a vaccine mandate over private business than the federal government, a spokesperson for Governor Pritzker said this new OSHA and Department of Labor rule would not be the mechanism to implement that kind of state-led mandate.

“If the court reversed the federal mandate, then our rule will also be rescinded,” Pritzker spokesperson Jordan Abudayyeh said.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

The state was facing a deadline to update the Illinois Department of Labor rule on Friday, which coincided with the Supreme Court’s arguments over the matter.

“As an OSHA State Plan administrator, Illinois OSHA is required by federal regulation and state law to adopt a form of this standard that is identical to, or at least as strong as, the federal standard,” IDOL spokesperson Paul Cicchini said in an email. “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.”

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include comments from Governor Pritzker’s office and the

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