The city of Enid will offer incentive payments for employees who are vaccinated against COVID-19 from Monday.
City employees will get eight hours of paid vacation if they present a full dose of the COVID vaccination to Human Resources by an announced date, as part of a new policy that Enid City Manager Jerald Gilbert sends to employees at the end of the first week from August.
No alternative accommodation will be offered for employees who request a vaccination waiver for medical or religious reasons.
Gilbert said he and the city leaders believed that incentivizing the vaccine was a good approach to dealing with the virus in the city government building and facilities.
The policy, which is valid indefinitely, informs employees about how to deal with COVID problems, as the coronavirus has become an issue again in the immediate vicinity of Enid due to the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus.
Almost all hospitalized COVID cases in the past 30 days were not fully vaccinated patients, according to the Oklahoma State Health Department’s epidemiology report last week.
“Because the evidence shows that vaccinated people get sick less often and when they get sick they get sick less,” Gilbert said Friday. “We all try to maintain a safe working environment for the public.”
Around 500 people currently work for the city of Enid, he said.
An entry-level city worker receives a minimum of $ 8.49 an hour of base salary (or $ 67.92 per working day) under the current agreement with the Enid Chapter of the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees Union.
Gilbert, who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, said the city currently has no idea who has been officially vaccinated or not.
Instead of a COVID-specific sick leave, employees who contract COVID-19 regardless of vaccination status would now take advantage of their sick leave and follow CDC guidelines to isolate themselves while contagious, Gilbert said. Enid city workers typically get 12 days (or 96 hours) sick leave each calendar year, he said.
Local union federation representative Michael Humphries was unavailable Friday to comment on the policy. Humphries works as a water foreman in the city’s maintenance department.
In May, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its COVID-19 guidelines, which allow employers to offer vaccination incentives. However, jobs must accommodate those who cannot take the vaccine because of a disability or religious objection.
Instead, the workplace must offer these employees alternatives in order to receive the incentive, such as accepting a regular COVID test.
According to the EEOC, employers can request proof of vaccination without violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by requesting a vaccination card or providing written confirmation that is then kept on a separate document. Such proof of vaccination status is not subject to the disability-related requests covered by the ADA, according to the EEOC.
As the popularity of offering vaccination incentives to citizens and private company employees has grown, American cities have recently caught up, while vaccination incentives across Oklahoma have largely fallen by the wayside.
Winter Park, Florida is offering $ 150 to its 549 city employees who will provide evidence of vaccination over the next six weeks, Winter Park city manager said last week.
Abilene, Texas City Council suspended a 40-hour incentive initiative in July.
In Oklahoma, Nichols Hills offered employees an additional 40 hours of vacation leave as well as COVID-related sick leave in January. In March Lawton City Councils agreed to offer city workers $ 100 for the vaccination.
Lawton announced a return to masking requirements in all city buildings and facilities on Aug. 5, with social distancing mandates going into effect on Friday.
Gilbert said he couldn’t force staff to wear a mask but can suggest wearing it.