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A Guide to Paid Time Off for COVID-19 Vaccination

Published: January 20, 2022
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As the world continues to cope with an ongoing pandemic, many businesses are seeking to shore up their policies to ensure a more stable, compliant, and healthy work environment. As has become all too clear, employers carry a special responsibility to ensure their workplaces pose a minimal risk to the community during COVID. Companies may also have a vested interest in offering more attractive work environments to combat the rise in burnout and turnover among their talent.

In order to do this, it is important to not only be in full compliance with current regulations but in some cases even to surpass them. Generous paid time off policies, while certainly attractive to employees, may not be at the forefront of our minds as key to fighting a pandemic, but it is actually an important tool that can combat the needless spread of infection. Let’s look at how your business can be the vanguard in offering compliant – and competitive – paid COVID-related leave.

COVID Vaccinations on PTO

While no current federal standards mandate PTO for COVID-19 vaccination, some states have and are working on regulations for their area. Check your local guidelines to learn more about your state’s requirements.

 Regardless of regulations, the vaccine leaves a significant number of people feeling sick with headaches, chills, and fever for 24 hours or even several days. This alone is a deterrent for many – even more so if it might mean missing much-needed pay. By offering PTO, employers are removing a significant obstacle to vaccination.

But meeting state or federal requirements is only the start. Many companies would do well to consider offering more than the minimum.

COVID Vaccinations on Company Time

Although offering vaccination leave may seem generous, businesses can do still more to encourage their workforce to get vaccinated: let them get pricked on the clock. While it’s not a requirement, the CDC does strongly urge employers to allow employees to receive the vaccination on work time, leaving their PTO reserves intact.

Why should companies do this? In short, it goes even further to remove obstacles that might deter employees from getting the vaccine. People may be more likely to make an appointment if it costs them nothing – not even their time. In fact, the CDC even encourages employers to consider offering vaccinations on-site, making the process still easier.

Time Off When Sick

Despite the PTO requirements for those recovering from vaccines, the same is not currently required for those recovering from a COVID infection. (However, some local laws may have minimum sick leave requirements, which employers should ensure they are up-to-date on.)

This lacuna should be a concern for businesses. If time off to support the COVID shot is important, how much more is it needed to contain actual sickness? Employees who fear losing income may hide COVID symptoms or diagnoses or even rush their recovery, skipping important steps as they hurry a return to work. This endangers the workforce as well as making your business a potential source of new infections in the community.

Beyond the ethical implications, neglecting to offer adequate sick leave may turn out to be a business disadvantage. Currently, the United States and Korea are the only two of thirty-eight OECD countries not to require minimum sick leave policies from employers. With the rise of remote work (even via international employers), U.S. employers may find they need to do more to remain attractive to employees.

Why Go Above & Beyond?

We’re moving beyond crisis mode in our COVID responses and into more of a long-haul view. It is becoming clear that in order to stay ahead of the curve, companies are needing to step up their pandemic-related policies, from preventative measures to COVID-related benefits such as PTO or sick leave. The recent OSHA ETS has upped the ante for employers seeking to be, at a minimum, fully compliant. We’ve also briefly touched on a few measures that go above and beyond the minimum, that are advisable not only from an ethical but also a business perspective.

These are, of course, only a starting point for employers. They represent areas that will undeniably have a positive impact in the workplace and the nation. However, employers can gain a greater advantage if they shift their total mindset away from merely meeting the standard (or offering a few token extras) and towards amply providing for employee needs. 

The pandemic has shifted social structures, and employees are feeling the tension as they balance family and work responsibilities. Their priorities are shifting, and employers are struggling against the resulting burnout and turnover. Offering generous paid leave and improved benefits covering other situations, (such as family time and caring for sick or vulnerable loved ones) may help employers attract and retain talent in an increasingly competitive market.

Using OnTask to Ease the Transition

No matter how inspiring the reasons may be to overhaul employee benefits, the logistics present a barrier to many companies. Human resource departments worry about the complications of getting such packages approved, as well as the coordination and costs involved in implementing them.

It’s true: a good solution to these challenges will be multi-faceted. Still, they are not insurmountable, and the potential return on investment is significant. Among other things, the process can be smoothed by automating and streamlining team workflows and communication using intelligent software. Many of the challenges inherent in policy shifts involve communication failures, inefficient efforts, and human error. These issues can be greatly reduced – some even eliminated – using the right technology.

OnTask is well-designed to automate much of the paperwork, workflows, and communication needed for improved paid leave policies. It makes it easy to track PTO for COVID-related needs, and seamlessly integrates rigorous compliance features. As part of a well-designed implementation strategy, it can transform the way your teams work together to far surpass today’s compliant standards and retain a competitive edge.

Are you interested in learning more about how OnTask can help transform your workplace? Schedule a demo with us!