It’s no secret that the coronavirus pandemic changed how Americans worked and their employment statuses over the past year. With states across the country loosening COVID-19 restrictions following the push for coronavirus vaccinations, employees in Illinois are starting to transition back to in-person work or find new employment.
It’s important for both employers and workers to understand what steps should be taken in order to maintain a safe and healthy workplace. Our Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys discuss more about these guidelines below.
Minimum Requirements for the State of Illinois
The state of Illinois maintains its commitment to ensuring the safety of Illinoisians. Governor J. B. Pritzker released an executive order on June 25, 2021 outlining steps that employers should take in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 when workplaces open back up. These guidelines, in conjunction with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), require employers to:
- Continue evaluating which employees are still able to work from home
- Facilitate remote work, when possible
- Ensure that employees practice social distancing (at least six feet apart) and wear face coverings when social distancing is not possible
- Provide face coverings at no charge to employees who are not able to maintain a six-foot distance apart at all times
- Ensure that all visitors (customers, vendors, etc.) are able to social distance
- When social distancing may not be possible, encourage customers to wear face coverings
- Prominently post the guidance from IDPH and the Office of the Illinois Attorney General regarding workplace safety during the COVID-19 pandemic
Best Practices to Promote Workplace Health and Safety
The below steps are not mandatory or legal requirements, however, they are recommended by the IDPH and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in order to provide extra protection against the spread of COVID-19 at work:
- Grant paid time off for employees to get vaccinated.
- Instruct any workers who are infected, unvaccinated workers who have had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and all workers with COVID-19 symptoms to stay home from work.
- Implement physical distancing for unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk workers in all communal work areas.
- Educate and train workers on your COVID-19 policies and procedures using accessible formats and in a language they understand.
- Maintain Ventilation Systems.
- If it is not feasible for employees to work from home, employers should consider what arrangements can be made to limit the number of employees who are together in the workplace at any one time
- Employers should develop a workplace safety plan as a way of identifying and addressing risks.
Protecting the Rights of Workers in Chicago
At Leonard Law Group, our team is dedicated to protecting the rights of workers in Chicago and across the state of Illinois. If you believe you contracted COVID-19 due to an unsafe work environment, you should not attempt to handle a potential workers' compensation claim on our own.
Instead, get in touch with an attorney at our firm. We will review the specific details of your case in a free, no-obligation case review and lay out your legal options moving forward.
Contact our team at (312) 487-2513 at your earliest convenience!