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State employees who get vaccinated to get 5 paid days off

Virus Outbreak Employer Mandates coronavirus COVID-19
Matt Rourke
In this Sept. 14, 2021, file photo, a syringe is prepared with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic at the Reading Area Community College in Reading, Pa.

Gov. Tom Wolf's administration told more than 70,000 state employees on Monday that it is offering five days of paid leave for getting fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of the year, quickly drawing opposition from the state treasurer over the potential cost.

The administration told employees that five days of “verification leave” can be used between Dec. 20 and March 31. Employees who don’t use the days by then will be paid for them and an employee who has verified their fully vaccinated status to the administration will automatically receive the days, it said.

“This leave will help incentivize the vaccinations that protect commonwealth employees and the Pennsylvanians we serve,” the administration told employees. “It’s one more way we can show our gratitude to employees who step up to help us protect our communities and bring this pandemic to an end.”

The administration already offers employees a paid day off to get vaccinated.

Treasurer Stacy Garrity, a Republican, called on Wolf, a Democrat, to abandon the plan. Her office said the cost to taxpayers for paying employees who do not use the days could amount to more than $100 million.

The decision is fiscally irresponsible, made in secret and without approval from lawmakers, Garrity said in a statement. Also, there are far better uses for the money, Garrity said.

House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre, called the plan fiscally irresponsible and tone-deaf to people who lost jobs or businesses during the pandemic.