Gov. Cooper signs order offering bonus leave for state employees who receive booster shot

(Photo: Vuong Tran / CC BY 2.0)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Today, Governor Roy Cooper signed an Executive Order that encourages eligible state employees to get their COVID-19 booster shot and rewards them with a day of vacation leave.

The Order provides up to eight hours of fully paid leave to eligible state employees who, on or before August 31, 2022, provide their agency with documentation of receiving a first booster for COVID-19.

The Order applies to Cabinet agencies and any other state agencies that voluntarily adopt the Executive Order’s measures.

“We have seen the importance of vaccines and their effectiveness in keeping more people from ending up in our hospitals or becoming very sick,” said Governor Cooper. “Staying up-to-date on shots and getting boosters will help keep our state employees and communities safe.”

In July 2021, Governor Cooper signed an Executive Order announcing that the state would begin verifying the vaccination status of Cabinet agency workers.

Unvaccinated employees were required to be tested at least once a week.

Since the policy was adopted, Cabinet agencies have seen an increase in the number of employees who received their COVID-19 shots.

Across the Governor’s Cabinet, the percentage of vaccinated employees jumped from 65% in September 2021 to nearly 78% as of late April 2022.

With the majority of state employees vaccinated against COVID-19 and infection rates relatively low, state government is pausing the testing requirement for most unvaccinated workers in place since last summer and implementing the new plan to provide paid leave to encourage boosters.

The paid leave is available not only to employees who receive their first booster shot between May 4 and August 31, but also to employees who have already received their first booster shot.

Employees will have until March 31, 2023 to use the extra leave.

“Vaccines and boosters are the best tools to manage COVID-19, and they continue to prove incredibly effective at preventing severe disease leading to hospitalizations,” said North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kody H. Kinsley. “I urge everyone to get a free and safe vaccine and to stay prepared as we vacation, gather and celebrate this summer.”

People who are vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 are less likely to become severely ill and die from COVID.

Booster shots protect the health of state employees, protect the health of state facility visitors and residents, and reduce lost work time due to illness.

“The high rate of vaccination among state employees has led to a dramatic reduction in the number of our workers testing positive in recent months,” said Barbara Gibson, State Human Resources Director. “Getting boosted when eligible will reinforce that trend while protecting our employees and the people they serve.”

The weekly testing requirement for unvaccinated Cabinet agency employees in health care or correctional facilities may continue.

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