Springfield, IL – Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the state’s top officials for public health and emergency management met with leaders of the Illinois AFL-CIO and Chicago Federation of Labor last week to share information on the emerging coronavirus crisis.
“Despite the ongoing slow reaction from the federal government from the outset of the crisis, Pritzker and his team outlined the state’s multi-faceted approach to protecting Illinoisans, the Illinois AFL-CIO said in a statement. Among the steps taken to protect Illinois workers:
- The Pritzker administration is filing emergency rules making clear that anyone who cannot work because of the preparations and response to the disease can generally qualify for unemployment benefits as allowed under federal law. Workers can seek the unemployment benefit aid through the Illinois Department of Employment Security.
- The Governor also will ask Congress to waive interest on any federal loans the state might need to deal with unemployment claim growth from the outbreak, while ensuring employers can still claim full federal unemployment tax credits.
- May require employers to offer paid sick leave – Workers who do not have paid sick days can exacerbate the outbreak by working when they should be home. Gov. Pritzker recognizes this, and he noted to reporters that his lawyers believe he can require employers to offer paid sick leave under the state’s existing unemployment laws, via emergency rule rather than going through the legislative process. Legislators already have canceled their session this week because of concern over the outbreak.
“We thank Gov. Pritzker for making the safety of working families during this uncertain time a priority. His daily press briefings and communication about the latest developments provide valuable information for the people of this state. Expertise, information and common sense will help guide us through this difficult time,” the state Federation said.
The Illinois Department of Public Health has a statewide COVID-19 hotline and website to answer any questions from the public or to report a suspected case: call 1-800-889-3931 or visit IDPH.illinois.gov.