Can I Get Paid Time Off for Getting the COVID Vaccine?
As COVID-19 case numbers continue to improve and businesses slowly return to their normal means of operation, a lot of questions are being brought up about employee rights regarding COVID vaccinations. One common question is whether employees can get paid time off for getting their COVID vaccine.
While there has been some federal guidance on COVID vaccines and paid time off, this issue has largely been left up to state law. Here, employment lawyer Dan A. Atkerson helps employees in Allen, Plano, and Frisco, TX, as well as across the state, understand their rights regarding the COVID vaccine and paid time off from work.
Federal Guidelines Regarding Paid Time Off for Vaccines
When COVID vaccines were first approved for emergency use, they were sometimes hard to come by. Now, as vaccination numbers decrease, the government is looking for ways to motivate Americans to receive their COVID vaccine. On the federal level, employers are being encouraged to assist with this process by offering employees paid time off to get the COVID vaccine.
Under the American Rescue Act Plan of 2021, certain tax credits are being extended to private employers with less than 500 employees who voluntarily decide to provide paid family or sick leave to workers receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. In addition, this paid time off would extend to any time needed to recover from vaccination side effects. Essentially, this act provides eligible employers with a tax credit equal to the wages paid for time off to receive the COVID vaccine (up to a certain limit).
As of right now, federal law only encourages employers to provide this extra paid time off; it is not required. However, employers who choose not to give their employees paid time off for the vaccine will not be eligible for the extra tax credit.
State Laws Regarding Paid Time Off
With federal guidelines being optional, many states are starting to make their own laws regarding paid time off and the COVID vaccine. For instance, in California, employers with more than 25 employees are being required to provide up to 80 hours of supplemental sick leave for COVID-related reasons, which may include receiving the COVID vaccine.
Currently, Texas has no laws that require employers to provide extra paid time off to receive the COVID vaccine. However, if employees have earned paid time off (either for sick leave or vacation), they can use that time to get paid for receiving the COVID vaccine, recovering from side effects of the vaccination, or both.
Understanding Your Employer’s Policy
Although providing extra paid time off for the COVID vaccine is optional, many employers are choosing to do it, not only to receive the tax credit, but also to encourage a safer work environment. Employees who are interested in receiving the vaccine should contact their employer’s Human Resources department to find out how, or if, they are providing paid time off to get vaccinated.
Get in Touch
If you have questions about paid time off for the COVID vaccine, or other work-related issues, employment lawyer Dan A. Atkerson can help you understand your employment rights. To schedule a personal consultation, send us a message online, or call our law firm at (214) 383-3606.