LOS ANGELES—Mayor Eric Garcetti said Oct. 20 that any city employee who refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 18 “should be prepared to lose their job.”
The deadline was initially Oct. 20 for Los Angeles’ mandate that all city employees be vaccinated. However, under a proposal submitted Oct. 19 by the city administrative officer, pending city council approval, workers would have until Dec. 18 to show proof of vaccination.
As of the morning of Oct. 20, a date had not yet been set for the city council to officially approve the plan, according to Council President Nury Martinez’s office, but Garcetti released a statement that morning saying employees had until Dec. 18 to be vaccinated.
“The city’s employee vaccine mandate is critical to protecting the health and safety of our workforce and the Angelenos we serve,” the mayor said. “Employees must be vaccinated by December 18, and we are putting a rigorous testing program into place in the meantime. Let me be clear: Any employee who refuses to be vaccinated by this date should be prepared to lose their job.”
Until Dec. 18, according to the proposal, unvaccinated employees would have to submit to two COVID-19 tests per week, and $65 per test would be deducted from their paychecks.
Employees would have to get tested during their free time, and testing would have to be conducted by the city or a vendor of the city’s choosing.
Third-party tests wouldn’t be allowed.
According to data from the mayor’s office on Oct. 19, 72.8 percent of city employees reported being fully or partially vaccinated, 17.9 percent either declined to state or didn’t report their status and 9.2 percent reported they were not vaccinated.
Those seeking religious or medical exemptions would also be required to take two tests per week at the employee’s expense while the city processes the exemption request. If an exemption is approved, the employee would be reimbursed for testing costs and going forward would be required to test for COVID-19 once per week, but the city would pay for it.
If an exemption request is denied, the employee would have five business days to file an appeal. If they don’t appeal the decision, they would be issued a notice that they must submit proof of vaccination. Failure to do so would result in “corrective action,” but details were not released.
The proposal also states that the employee would be able to either resign or retire “all in good standing in lieu of discipline” if they didn’t comply with the vaccination mandate.
Exemption requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. People can qualify for an exemption if they have a medical condition or sincerely held religious beliefs, practices, or observances that prevent them from receiving the vaccine.
“How can we ask Angelenos to be vaccinated if we are not doing it ourselves? We need to set a strong example for our communities. The vaccines are available, they’re effective, and they’re keeping people out of the hospital and off ventilators,” Martinez said when the ordinance was approved in August.
Many workers who don’t want the vaccines say it’s an issue of personal freedom.