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New Utah grant to reimburse employees taking time off for COVID-19 vaccine

Posted at 4:42 PM, Nov 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-15 19:45:42-05

SALT LAKE CITY — To get more shots in arms, the state will offer small businesses a reimbursement for giving paid time off to employees who get vaccinated starting Tuesday.

“Really overall the goal is just to get shots in arms, and hopefully we can support that,” said Dane Ishihara, the director of the Utah Office of Regulatory Relief.

Some vaccine hesitancy comes from those concerned about taking time off, a survey conducted by the Utah Department of Health found.

READ: Staggering 4,502 new COVID cases in Utah over weekend; 26 new deaths

“The hourly workers, if you’re missing a shift and you get three or four hundred dollars that shift, that may affect your rent payment, your mortgage payment for those employees,” said Ishihara.

That’s why Go Utah is offering an employee vaccination grant.

Businesses that have less than 50 full-time Utah employees who work 40 hours or more qualify.

This grant can also help parents who either need to take time off to get their child vaccinated or to care for their child if they have an adverse reaction to the vaccine.

“We’re really targeting the hourly worker, so if it’s restaurants or other small businesses where the employees normally would not receive paid time off, we’re really trying to support that, the hourly worker,” said Ishihara.

And for workers who rely on tips, those tips are also factored into what’s reimbursed.

“So, what we built into the grant program also is paying those including gratuity, so if you are making $3 an hour and $50 in tips in shift, we’ll reimburse those costs,” said Ishihara.

Also written into the program: the employer can’t keep a record of vaccination.

“They are sending us some documentation that the employee did receive the vaccination, but then we’ll review it and destroy it and the employers will also commit to destroying the records,” said Ishihara.

READ: Appeals court sides with Utah, other states on Biden COVID-19 vaccine order

The small business employee vaccination grant has received $500,000 in federal CARES Act funds. Grants will be offered to employers on a first-come, first-served basis. The grant offers employers funds to provide paid time off for employees who are otherwise not eligible for paid time off. The grant may be used for both full-time and part-time employees.

The employer must pay the employee for time off before the end of the year.

Employers have until Jan. 20, 2022, to submit applications for reimbursement.

Applications open Tuesday at 9 a.m.

For more details on how to apply, click here.