D.A. Asked: Can My Employer Require Me to Use Vacation Days to Get Vaccinated Against COVID-19?

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On May 3, 2022, D.A. Asked:

“My employer is requiring employees to use vacation days to cover any time off that is needed due to side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine. My employer is also refusing employees adequate time off for employees to quarantine following exposure to COVID-19. What should I do?”

Answer:

Pandemic Patients encourages everyone to talk to their doctor about getting vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible. Some individuals may be concerned about side effects from the vaccine; however, most people experience mild side effects that are not severe enough to require time off from work. Side effects are typically less severe for the first vaccine dose and become more prominent for subsequent doses. If you are able, choosing to get the vaccine on a Friday could allow you to take some time for yourself over the weekend to rest and to allow any side effects from the vaccine to resolve by the following Monday. Alternatively, requesting to work from home for one or two days following your vaccination can provide more flexibility for you to recover from any vaccine side effects.

The Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) issued a COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing ETS on Nov. 5, 2021, which would require covered employers to provide a set amount of paid time off for employees to get vaccinated and to recover from any side effects that arise from the vaccine. However, the proposed rule was challenged in court and subsequently withdrawn on January 26, 2022, leaving employees without the benefit of paid time off for vaccination against COVID-19. OSHA may attempt to implement a similar regulation again in the future.

COVID-19 is highly infectious and can be contagious up to 14 days after you are initially exposed to the coronavirus. If you are unvaccinated, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends quarantining for at least five days following exposure to COVID-19. If your employer is refusing to allow you to follow the CDC’s quarantine guidance following a potential or confirmed exposure to COVID-19, they may be creating an unsafe environment for yourself and your coworkers. OSHA has published a fact sheet on filing a whistleblower complaint concerning a hazardous working condition. To file a complaint about a hazardous working condition with OSHA, you can visit a local area OSHA office or call 1-800-321-6742.

Click here to access other COVID-19 FAQ.

L.B. Asked: Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Long COVID?

“I was exposed to COVID-19 at work several months ago. Because I only experienced mild symptoms, I didn’t file a workers’ compensation claim. I have recently started experiencing symptoms of long COVID, including chronic fatigue and cognitive impairment, and I am not unable to work. Can I file a workers’ compensation claim?”

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