Millions of people throughout the U.S. can now receive COVID-19 vaccine. Employees who need time off in order to receive the vaccine or recover from the vaccine-related symptoms after getting a shot are entitled to paid leave. In the City of Los Angeles, the order mandating COVID-19 Vaccine Leave was issued about over a month ago on June 24, 2021 by Mayor Eric Garcetti. The ordinance requires employers to offer supplemental paid leave of up to four hours per dose for workers that have been working under the employer for at least 60 days.
The ordinance applies to all employers who have employees working in the unincorporated areas of the City of Los Angeles. Upon written or oral request of an employee, the employers must offer the required vaccine leave to them in order to:
- Travel to and from a COVID-19 vaccine appointment.
- Receive the Coronavirus vaccine dose.
- Recover from any vaccine-related symptoms that occurred due to an immune response that prevent the employee from working or teleworking.
Amount of Leave and Rate of Pay
Full-time employees are entitled up to 4 hours of supplemental paid leave per injection to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Part-time employees on the other hand, are entitled to a prorate amount of 4 hours per dose on the basis of their scheduled working hours over the course of 2-week period prior to the injection.
For instance, an employee who works 20 hours a week and receives a COVID-19 vaccine would be entitled to 2 hours of vaccine leave for each dose, for a total of 4 hours of leave. A full-time worker who receives only one dose of vaccine would be allowed 4 hours of vaccine leave for the injection.
Nonexempt employees must be paid at their normal rate of pay for vaccine leave. It is calculated on the basis of an employee’s highest average 2-week pay over the period of January 1, 2021 through the effective date of the ordinance. Exempt employees are also entitled to the same manner of compensation.
Employees may need to provide written verification of the Coronavirus vaccine receipt to their employers to receive the vaccine leave. If there is any medical information included in the written verification of an employee, e.g. a vaccine card, employers must consider it as confidential medical information and store the record separately from the personnel file of the employee, according to the guidelines of the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
Protection Against Retaliation
The ordinance forbids employers from refusing to comply, reducing compensation, terminating, or taking any opposing action against their employee looking to enforce their rights according to the ordinance, participating in any proceedings that are related to the order, opposing any practice prohibited by it, or declaring rights under it.
The ordinance will remain in effect until September 30, 2021. And while this ordinance applies specifically to City of Los Angeles, the vaccine-related leave rights are basically the same for employees throughout the country.