Listen to this article

SPRINGFIELD — An amendment to the Health Care Right of Conscience Act that allows an employer to fire a worker for noncompliance with COVID-19 vaccine or test requirements surfaced Monday ahead of the final three scheduled days of legislative action this year.

That bill language was introduced in the General Assembly on Monday as Gov. J.B. held a news conference to encourage vaccination in children aged 5-11, provided federal regulators recommend the vaccine in that age group next week.

House Amendment 2 to Senate Bill 1169, carried by Rep. Robyn Gabel, D-Evanston, creates a section of the Health Care Right of Conscience Act pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The current law defines "conscience" as “a sincerely held set of moral convictions arising from belief in and relation to God.” On those lines, certain care, including testing, can be refused without repercussions from an employer.

Some have used those lines to not only refuse vaccine mandates, but also the testing requirements that are in place for people covered under the mandates if they choose not to receive the vaccine.

The new amendment provides that it is not a violation of the Act “for any person or public official, or for any public or private association, agency, corporation, entity, institution or employer, to take any measures or impose any requirements … intended to prevent contraction or transmission of COVID-19.”

Per the new legislation, employers can terminate employment or exclude individuals from a school, place of employment or public or private premises in response to noncompliance.

Gabel and Pritzker’s office did not immediately reply to a request for comment Monday.

But when asked about potential changes to the act last week, Pritzker spokesperson Emily Bittner said, “The Healthcare Right of Conscience Act was never intended to allow people to avoid public health guidance and jeopardize workplace safety during a global pandemic. The administration supports efforts to clarify the law, so it cannot be misinterpreted by fringe elements.”

Trending Videos