Idaho Gov. offers paid time off for COVID vaccine, calls on businesses to follow suit

COVID-19 vaccine is best tool to protect jobs, strengthen workforce and save lives, Little says

By: - June 17, 2021 11:49 am
Idaho Gov. Brad Little

Brad Little has served as Idaho’s governor since 2019.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little is taking the lead on offering paid time off to employees who get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“This morning, I informed Idaho state employees we’re offering them a new benefit – four hours of paid leave if they have received or choose to receive the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine!” Little said Wednesday on Twitter. “The new benefit comes at no additional cost to Idaho taxpayers.”

With about 25,000 employees, the state is Idaho’s largest employer.

The announcement comes as Idaho’s coronavirus vaccination rates have settled down into a low, slow pace. Only about half of Idaho adults have been vaccinated so far. Public health officials are hoping to encourage Idahoans age 12 and over to get their shots before fall, when respiratory diseases typically begin to surge and children return to classrooms.

Little said the incentive would apply for any state employee who has already been vaccinated, or who chooses to get vaccinated before Aug. 31.

“Idaho’s economy has remained strong throughout the pandemic and continues to outpace other states’ recoveries,” Little said in a letter to the state’s workers. “The COVID-19 vaccine is our best tool to protect jobs, strengthen our workforce, and save lives.”

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has recommended employers offer time off, to incentivize their workers protecting themselves from the coronavirus. That can minimize the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks in the workplace. The time off also may allow workers to rest if they experience side effects, such as a fever or fatigue, from the vaccine.

“I encourage private employers to consider offering their employees the same benefit,” Little said on Twitter. “The COVID-19 vaccine is our best tool to protect jobs, strengthen our workforce, and save lives.”

Marissa Morrison Hyer, Little’s press secretary, said the benefit is four hours total, whether a person receives a one- or two-dose vaccine.

“There is no incremental cost to state government for this benefit,” she said. “Agencies are fully appropriated for personnel, and this will be managed within current agency budgets.”

Gov. Little to state employees - new benefit

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Audrey Dutton
Audrey Dutton

Audrey Dutton, senior investigative reporter, joined the Idaho Capital Sun after 10 years at the Idaho Statesman. Her favorite topics to cover include health care, business, consumer protection issues and white collar crime. Dutton hails from Twin Falls. She attended college at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, and received a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University in New York City. Before coming home to Idaho, Dutton worked as a journalist in Minnesota, New York, Maryland and Washington, D.C. Dutton's work has earned dozens of state, regional and national awards for investigative reporting, health care and business reporting, data visualization and more.