Illinois governor wants paid COVID sick leave for school employees — but only if they're vaccinated

·2 min read
J.B. Pritzker
J.B. Pritzker Scott Olson/Getty Images

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritker vetoed a bill Monday that would have given paid sick leave to all Illinois public school employees suffering from COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Per the Sun-Times, Pritzker vetoed the bill after his negotiations with the Illinois Education Association and the Illinois Federation of Teachers led to a new proposed bill "that makes clear employees need to be vaccinated in order to qualify."

The School Employee Benefit and Wage Protection Bill initially passed both houses of the Illinois legislature in October, the Chicago Tribune reported. But, according to the Tribune, Pritzker hesitated to sign it after opponents claimed "the measure could create a disincentive for those who are still unvaccinated to get the shot."

"Many Illinoisans who were on the fence are now choosing to get protected — and to protect their family. If you know someone who hasn't yet, explain your reasons for getting vaccinated. You just might be the reason they decide to get protected," Pritzker tweeted Tuesday.

Official synopses of HB2778 explain that the original bill would have required "school districts and the governing board of each public university and community college district to provide paid administrative leave to an employee for purposes related to COVID-19."

The bill would also have amended "sick leave provisions ... to require a district to return any sick leave used during the 2021-2022 school year by a teacher or employee for reasons related to the issuance of guidance, mandates, or rules related to COVID-19 and public health."

In other words, school employees would no longer have had to use their allotted sick leave when taking required days off for COVID-related reasons.

Pritzker's new bill, which has yet to be introduced, retains these policies but restricts the benefits to vaccinated employees.

Illinois allows school employees who do not wish to be vaccinated to keep their jobs as long as they submit weekly COVID tests.

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