Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced Monday that vaccinated state employees will receive five additional days of paid time off in an unprecedented incentive policy for government workers.
Though several states, including Pennsylvania, previously offered one day of paid leave in order to get vaccinated, Pennsylvania is the first state to offer additional paid time off as a bonus unrelated to side effects.
Individuals who receive at least one vaccine dose by the end of 2021 will be able to use five paid days off between December 20, 2021 and March 31, 2022, and will receive a lump sum payment if the time goes unused during that period.
Wolf mandated in August that all employees in state health care facilities and high-risk congregate care facilities needed to get vaccinated or undergo weekly testing, but Pennsylvania does not have a vaccine mandate for all state workers.
There are more than 70,000 Pennsylvania state employees, per the Associated Press.
Cash bonuses have been the most frequent incentive for state governments previously, as states such as Arkansas and Maryland offered $100 to vaccinated state employees, according to the National Governors Association. In July, President Joe Biden called on states to offer a $100 cash incentive using funds received from the American Rescue Plan.
Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity (R) opposed Wolfe’s incentive program, telling the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “This decision by Governor Wolf—made in a backroom deal completely outside of the state budget process and away from public scrutiny—is fiscally irresponsible…. As an independent fiscal officer charged with protecting money that belongs to hard-working Pennsylvanians, I call on the governor to drop this ill-conceived scheme immediately.”
78%. That’s the percent of Pennsylvania residents that have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine, making Pennsylvania the sixth-most vaccinated state in the U.S., according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The issue of vaccine requirements is contentious, to say the least. Last week, attorney generals from 11 states filed lawsuits against President Joe Biden’s administration’s vaccine mandate for federal contractors nationwide. The federal mandate is set to go into effect December 8.