Thursday was the deadline for all San Jose city employees to be vaccinated against COVID-10, but the city announced today it is giving unvaccinated workers a “one-week grace period” to get vaccinated, before facing a “disciplinary process” that could lead to their dismissal in 2022.
“The update to the policy will allow unvaccinated individuals, without a religious or medical exemption, a one-week ‘grace period’ to seek vaccination before being placed on a one-week unpaid suspension, the first step in the disciplinary process,” the city said in a statement.
Unvaccinated employees will be required to test negative twice a week at their own time and expense.
City officials reported “significant progress” in implementing its mandatory vaccination policy, announced in early August.
Total city workforce vaccination has increased from 89% to 92% in recent weeks. The Police Department has increased from 82% vaccinated to 86% vaccinated as of Sept. 24 and the Fire Department reported a 92% vaccination rate.
“San Jose doesn’t want to push anyone out of their employment with the city, but we have a responsibility to continue to deliver critical city services, safely, to our residents,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. “We know new variants are emerging, which only furthers the need to ensure we have a vaccinated workforce. Our ability to provide essential services to our community without increased risk of interruptions from exposures depends on it.”
Because of the impacts on city services, employees who remain unvaccinated will be given staggered disciplinary one-week suspensions, the city said.
“As the city works to reduce potential service impacts and give employees additional opportunities to get vaccinated, unvaccinated employees going through the disciplinary process will remain in the workplace with the expectation that they will comply with required testing.”
“Employees will be given a final opportunity to comply with the city’s mandatory vaccination policy prior to a final notice of discipline being served to them.”
“I'm proud of city staff who have worked tirelessly during the pandemic to provide ongoing essential services as our community depends on us,” said City Manager Jennifer Maguire. “The fully implemented mandated vaccination policy will continue to support this key goal and will also help ensure our community’s and employees’ safety.”
Employees who have received one dose of a COVID vaccine by today or during the disciplinary process will be given "reasonable time" to receive their second dose and will not be subject to disciplinary action unless they fail to receive their second dose, according to the policy.
“The city will also consider further action for those that remain unvaccinated after Dec. 31, which may include disciplinary action up to, and including termination,” the city said in today’s statement.
Employees who have submitted requests for religious and medical exemptions are being evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and qualified employees are able to submit negative COVID-19 test results twice a week.
Testing can be done on employees off-work hours or using their available leave balances.Failure to provide the test results twice a week will result in the employee being placed on unpaid leave until they submit negative test results.