City manager Monty Crump sent a note to employees on Monday, giving them until October 15 to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Any city employee not vaccinated by this date must provide weekly test results to their manager and the human resources office.
Testing should be performed at the employee’s expense and time – “and not during City working hours”.
Employees who benefit from an exemption must provide the manager and the human resources office with “the required documents”.
Those who are currently vaccinated are asked to provide copies of their vaccination cards.
Failure to follow the policy “will lead to disciplinary action, including termination.”
Crump told the RO that the city’s policy “closely mirrors” that of the state.
Starting Wednesday, all state cabinet employees are required to be vaccinated or undergo weekly tests, according to Executive Order 224.
In that order, Cooper encourages all other state and local government agencies to adopt similar policies.
“About half of the city’s employees are vaccinated and I get feedback from vaccinated employees who are concerned about working with unvaccinated employees,” Crump said. “Additionally, we’ve had several recent cases in the workplace and when that happens, quarantines are costly in overtime and wasted time, costing taxpayers money. “
Crump said the problem boils down to an issue of risk management in the workplace, adding that “vaccines have proven to be an effective risk management tool for COVID-19.”
“COVID-19 continues to present ongoing challenges and there is no silver bullet and no right or wrong answer. I wish there were, ”Crump said. “We’re going to work (through) this. We do not want to close our facilities again, which reduces accessibility to the public and (affects) public services. “
Crump added that the policy is temporary, but will be in effect until further notice and is subject to change.
Mayor Steve Morris echoed Crump’s sentiments on politics.
The COVID cases involving city workers have resulted in “a lot of overtime,” he said. “It was very expensive.
Morris also said it was not fair for those who have been vaccinated to be put at risk by working next to someone who is not.
According to interim health director Cheryl Speight, 11.5% of 752 patients tested positive from July 24 to August 24. 23 were fully vaccinated.
Morris said employees “always have a choice, but there are consequences” if they don’t get vaccinated or pay to get tested every week.
At least one member of city council disagrees with the policy.
“I am very proud of our employees, most of whom have been with us for years and years,” said Pro Mayor Tem John Hutchinson. “We need to trust them to make the right choices for themselves and their colleagues without fear of punishment. “
Hutchinson added that he prefers incentives.
Hamlet City manager Matthew Christian told the RO on Tuesday night that there are currently no plans for mandatory vaccines there. However, at the time, he was working on an incentive policy.
County manager Bryan Land said on Wednesday that no decision had been made regarding the vaccine requirement for county workers.
A bill to ban mandatory vaccinations – backed by Moore County Representative James Boles – was introduced in the North Carolina House of Representatives in April, but records show he never left the committee. health.
Another House bill was introduced soon after that would have prevented most state, county and municipal workers from being fired for refusing to take the vaccine. He didn’t budge from the health committee either.
Several hospital systems in the state – including Atrium Health and Novant Health – have adopted mandatory vaccination policies, according to several media.
These policy changes led to a protest from health workers and a letter of opposition from state lawmakers.
Although FirstHealth encourages its employees to get vaccinated, the regional health system does not currently require it, according to public relations manager Emily Sloan. She added that FirstHealth will continue to assess the situation and announce any changes if or when they are made.
House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, said the decision to vaccinate should be left to individuals and their doctors.
“Our healthcare workers are certainly able to weigh the risks and benefits and can make their own decision about the vaccine,” Moore said. “This mandate could force healthcare workers to choose between their job and their conscience. Now is not the time to risk losing one of our healthcare workers who have been on the front lines of this pandemic. “
In the June issue of Business North Carolina, Grant B. Osborne wrote about mandatory vaccinations in the private sector.
Osborne, a labor and employment lawyer at Ward & Smith, said that while mandatory vaccinations may be legal, they could “produce unintended consequences, such as insane employees and potential legal disputes.”
“So thoughtful employers can opt for a policy that just encourages employees to get the jab,” Osborne continued. “It can give almost as many vaccinations as the mandatory approach – and can do more to improve company cohesion and team spirit in these troubled times.
“A clear written policy, in either case, needs to be prepared and implemented, once the employer has decided which approach best suits their goals. “