COVID-19 Employee Information

  • Emergency Paid Sick (EPS) Leave

  • Staff Vaccination Requirement

Summary

On Friday, May 28, 2021 the state’s Emergency Paid Sick (EPS) Leave Act went into effect.  This requires that the City provide employees with Emergency Paid Sick Leave for specific reasons related to COVID-19.  These benefits are available from May 28, 2021 through September 30, 2021 or until the exhaustion of funding as determined by the state.

An employee is entitled to take EPS leave, which is related to COVID-19, if the employee is unable to work, including unable to telework, for one of qualifying reasons and the employee is covered by the provisions of the Act.

Reasons For Leave

EPS Leave is available for the following COVID-19 related reasons:

  1. An employee’s need to:
    1. Self-isolate and care for themselves because they have been diagnosed with COVID-19;
    2. Get a medical diagnosis, care or treatment for COVID-19 symptoms; or
    3. Get or recover from COVID-19 immunization;
  2. An employee’s need to care for a family member (defined in this Act as an employee’s spouse, domestic partner, child, parent, grandchild, grandparent, or sibling, a parent of a spouse or domestic partner of the employee, or a person who stood in loco parentis to the employee when such employee was a minor child):
    must self-isolate due to a COVID-19 diagnosis; or
  3. Needs medical diagnosis, care, or treatment for COVID-19 symptoms;
  4. A quarantine order or similar determination regarding the employee by a local, state, or federal public official, a health authority having jurisdiction, or a health care provider;
  5. An employee’s need to care for a family member due to a quarantine order or similar determination regarding the family member by a local, state or federal public official, a health authority having jurisdiction, the family member’s employer, or a health care provider; or
  6. An employee’s inability to telework due to COVID-19 symptoms.

Please note that you will not be asked to use accrued paid time off before using EPS Leave nor will you be asked to find replacement workers to cover your absence/s from work.

Leave Amounts

  1. Employees will be eligible for leave in an amount that is equal to the average number of hours worked per week, up to forty (40) hours;
  2. Employees whose schedule and weekly hours vary from week to week will be eligible for leave that is equal to the average number of hours that the employee was scheduled to work per week over the previous six (6) months or from the date of hire for those on the job fewer than six (6) months.
  3. The maximum amount the City is required to pay an employee is 100% pay up to $850 (including the cost of benefits).

This benefit is capped at forty (40) hours (or whatever regularly scheduled weekly hours are), up to a maximum of $850 of pay including benefits

For example, based on a forty (40) hour work week: 

If your weekly compensation is $654 or less, whether or not you receive City benefits, and you are out of work for applicable COVID-19 related reason/s as specified above, you would be eligible to be paid for up to forty (40) hours of EPS, depending upon what your regularly scheduled hours are, under this Act.

If your weekly compensation is $850, you do not receive benefits from the City, and you are out of work for applicable COVID-19 related reason/s as specified above, you would be eligible to be paid for up to forty (40) hours of EPS, depending upon your regularly scheduled hours, under this Act. If your weekly compensation is $850 and you do receive benefits from the City, and you are out of work for applicable COVID-19 related reason/s as specified above, you would be eligible to be paid for up to thirty-one (31) hours of EPS, depending upon your regularly scheduled hours, under this Act

If your weekly compensation is $1,000 and you do not receive City benefits, and you are out of work for applicable COVID-19 related reason/s as specified above, you would be eligible to be paid for thirty-four (34) hours of sick leave or just over three days of sick leave, under this Act.  If you are out sick more days than this Act provides pay for, you may use your own available accrued time, to the extent that you have it.  If your weekly compensation is $1,000 and you do receive City benefits, and you are out of work for applicable COVID-19 related reason/s as specified above, you would be eligible to be paid for twenty six (26) hours of sick leave or just over three days of sick leave, under this Act.  If you are out sick more days than this Act provides pay for, you may use your own available accrued time, to the extent that you have it.
 

WEEKLY PAY

RECEIVE CITY BENEFITS

ELIGIBLE EPS HOURS

EPS LEAVE PAY

up to $654

YES or NO

up to 40 hours

regular weekly pay

$654 to $850

NO

up to 40 hours

regular weekly pay

above $654

YES

variable based on schedule/pay

varied

       

SPECIFIC EXAMPLES

     

$850

YES

up to 31 hours

$850

$1,000

NO

up to 34 hours

$850

$1,000

YES

up to 26 hours

$850

Please note:  employees may supplement EPS with their own available accrued sick, vacation or personal leave time to cover their entire COVID-19 related absence.

Requests for Leave

Requests for leave must be submitted in writing and include the following information:

  1. the employee’s name
  2. the date(s) for which leave is requested and taken;
  3. a statement of the COVID-19 related reason the employee is requesting leave and written support for such reason (i.e., medical documentation, including test result); and
  4. a statement that because of the COVID-19 related reason the employee is unable to work or telework.

For leave requests based on a quarantine order or self-quarantine advice, the statement from the employee must include:

  1. the name of the governmental entity ordering quarantine or the name of the health care provider advising self-quarantine;
  2. if the person subject to quarantine or advised to self-quarantine is not the employee that person’s name and relation to the employee.

Employee requests for leave submitted appropriately and with supporting documentation, will not be unreasonably denied.  No employee will be prevented from taking leave, retaliated against, disciplined, or have any other adverse action taken against them based on their need for EPS Leave.

Please submit requests for leave on the attached form and return via email to [email protected] or return to the Human Resources office (formerly known as ‘Personnel’).

Please contact Director of Human Resources Anne Gill at [email protected] or Deputy Director of Human Resources Ellen Collins [email protected] if you have questions or would like to discuss the provisions of this Act further.

  • All City staff must be fully vaccinated by November 1, 2021

  • Certain exemptions and accommodations will be allowed

  • Somerville School Committee to review vaccination requirements for the Somerville Public Schools at Monday, August 30, meeting

To better protect the health and safety of staff and the public, Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone announced today that all City of Somerville employees must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of November 1, 2021. The City joins municipalities, states, and employers across the nation, including the U.S. military, who are taking this preventive step to help contain the spread of the virus. Employees will be allowed to apply for certain exemptions. 

“COVID-19 is surging once again, and we must use every tool available to rein in the devastating impacts of this virus. Vaccination is the most effective tool we have to reduce severe and fatal illness from this disease. To protect our staff and the public we serve, and to do our part to keep the recovery going, we are requiring staff vaccination. We’ll be doing our best to make this easy for employees, and we will be working with our union representatives to develop reasonable accommodations for medical and other exceptions,” said Mayor Curtatone. 

City staff includes all City of Somerville full-time, part-time, and temporary employees working for any City department or City public safety agency, excluding school staff. The Somerville Public Schools have been developing proposals for vaccination requirements in consultation with school-based unions. School vaccine requirements must be approved by the Somerville School Committee, which will take up the matter at their next meeting on Monday, August 30.

Requests for medical and religious accommodations will be considered on a case-by-case basis. City officials are seeking to develop fair and reasonable protocols for enforcement and accommodations in collaboration with employee union representatives.

Individuals are considered to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 two weeks after their final vaccine dose. Thus to be fully vaccinated by November 1, all City staff must receive the final dose of their chosen COVID-19 vaccine by October 18. For the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, full vaccination is two weeks after receiving the second dose. For the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, full vaccination is two weeks after receiving the one and only dose.

To further ease access, the City will be offering staff vaccination clinics and sharing information on other vaccination providers. Staff will be able to report their vaccination status via a secure, HIPAA-compliant online portal, and the program will be administered with full confidentiality by the City’s Department of Human Resources.

“The vaccines are proving to be highly effective in preventing serious cases of COVID-19, even with the variants,” said Somerville’s Health and Human Services Director Doug Kress. “That is why it is vital for everyone who is eligible to get the vaccine. There are still tens of thousands of people regionally and more than 100 million people nationally who do not have this protection, just as a highly contagious variant is causing a new round of outbreaks. Until we have the overwhelming majority of our population vaccinated, the potential for this virus to do serious harm will persist.”

“As a public entity, the City must fulfill its responsibility to safeguard public health. But as our staff get their vaccines, I’m urging the remaining unvaccinated members of our community to also step up to protect us all,” said Mayor Curtatone. “We need you to get vaccinated to protect children under 12, to protect the vulnerable, and to spare doctors and nurses the burden and heartbreak of more COVID cases. Do this to shield your loved ones from the worry or grief that will come if you become ill or die from this awful disease. Get vaccinated to keep the recovery moving forward. I know our community cares about each other. I see it every day in so many ways. Let’s show it by driving up our vaccination numbers too.” 

Vaccination is available for free to all persons in Massachusetts age 12 and older. No insurance, no I.D., and no immigration information is required. Walk-in, no appointment options are widely available. To find out how and where to get vaccinated locally, visit somervillema.gov/vaccine or contact 311 at 617-666-3311.

 


Frequently Asked Questions

The vaccine mandate will apply to all City employees, regardless of number of hours worked.

The City will accommodate staff members who are prevented from getting the vaccine for a medical reason or because of a sincerely held religious belief. These staff members must participate in alternative protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Please contact Human Resources (HR) if you believe that you qualify for an exemption by emailing HR Director Anne Gill.

This is a mandate that is intended to protect the health and safety of staff and the public.. There will be sanctions for noncompliance with the mandate, but the details of those sanctions are still under review and subject to discussions with the City’s unions.

Human Resources (HR) will oversee compliance with the vaccine mandate. 

Staff who do not qualify for an exemption must be fully vaccinated by the start of business on November 1, 2021.

According to the CDC, people are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after their second shot in a 2-dose series, like the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or 2 weeks after a single-shot vaccine, like Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine.

The schedule below provides the last day a person can be vaccinated based on the different vaccines in order to be fully vaccinated on November 1, 2021:

 

Dose 1

Dose 2

Fully vaccinated coverage

Pfizer

9/27/21

10/18/21

11/1/21

Moderna

9/20/21

10/18/21

11/1/21

Janssen (J&J)

10/18/21

N/A

11/1/21

Vaccines are available at the CHA Vaccine Clinic located at 176 Somerville Ave. Their hours and information can be found here. The clinic is open to all and will accept walk-ins or appointments.  Additional vaccine locations can be found at somervillema.gov/vaccine or on VaxFinder. Covid-19 vaccination is free and no insurance is required.

The City’s Health & Human Services (HHS) Department will offer the following vaccine clinics for employees and their families. Please use the provided link to register or call 617-625-6600 x4320. Walk-in registration will also be available at each clinic. 

Dose 1 Date

Dose 2 Date

Location/Time

Registration Link

Vaccine Offered

September 1

September 22

Connexion

149 Broadway

12-2 p.m.

Connexion Clinic

Pfizer

September 15

October 6

Somerville High School

89 Highland Ave.

1-4 p.m.

SHS Clinic

Pfizer

September 24

October 15

West Somerville School

177 Powder House Blvd.

3-5 p.m.

West Somerville Clinic

Pfizer

October 18

N/A

City Hall Annex

50 Evergreen Ave.

11-12:30 p.m.

Annex Clinic

Johnson & Johnson (Janssen)

Employees may use sick leave if they have side effects from the vaccine that prevent them from working.

This City will use a HIPAA-compliant online program that will allow employees to report their vaccine status. Persons requiring assistance with this anticipated online platform may request support from HR. In the meantime, the CDC recommends taking a picture of your vaccination card as a backup copy, so please do so as soon as possible if you haven’t already. 

There are several options available if you lost your vaccine card:

  • Contact your vaccination provider, such as Walgreens, CVS, or your local Board of Health. Please note that the Somerville Board of Health will only have access to Somerville residents’ vaccine information.
  • If you enrolled in v-safe when you got the vaccine, your record will be stored there. (Please note that you can only enroll in v-safe when you receive your vaccine.)
  • Fill out an immunization record request form, which goes to the Department of Public Health, to receive a complete history of all of the vaccines you’ve received, not just the COVID-19 vaccine. Please note it can take up to six weeks before you get your records and that the request form must be notarized mailed.

HR will safeguard vaccination information using a HIPAA-compliant system. HR staff will exclusively have access to this information, and it will only be used confidentially to manage the vaccination compliance program. This will be managed similarly to other confidential employee medical records.

HR will handle exemption requests pursuant to the City’s existing reasonable accommodation policy and will keep that information confidential.

Individuals who qualify for an exemption for medical or religious reasons must participate in reasonable alternative protocols that may include frequent testing.  Details about alternative protocols will be shared at a later date with individuals who qualify for an exemption.

Guidance regarding boosters will be shared at a later date, but if you are eligible for a booster (or a third dose for immunocompromised persons), we strongly encourage you to get your booster or third dose in order to have maximum protection against the virus. Consult with your healthcare provider for additional guidance. 

Please email HR Director Anne Gill and HR Administrator Elaine O’Sullivan.           

Please email HR Director Anne Gill and HR Administrator Elaine O’Sullivan.

 

Thank you for all you have done and will continue to do to keep our staff and community members as safe as possible in this challenging time.