At the City Council meeting on October 12, and by a 3 to 2 vote, the Council decided to mandate either vaccinations or testing for all city employees. Sharon Springer and Bob Frutos were the dissenting votes. The policy was to go into effect after the city had time to confer with the different employee unions.
Burbank’s mandate which is similar to other cities says that employees must be either vaccinated or be tested weekly if the employee has been granted a medical or religious exemption.
Besides employees, all board and commission members were also mandated to be in the program.
Fast-track to December 2021, the policy went into effect December 2 and employees had until December 14 to submit proof of vaccination or for employees to exempt themselves from weekly testing, according to Simone McFarland, Burbank Public Information Officer. All employees who do not follow the requirements of the mandate are subject to a disciplinary process. Weekly testing for all unvaccinated employees began on December 20.
“After an initial non-disciplinary reminder following the deadline and an additional week to comply, the progressive discipline process begins with a written reprimand and then moves to a one-day suspension without pay, a five-day suspension without pay, and finally termination.
The whole discipline process from start to finish will take longer than five weeks because each step will take one to two weeks to complete, then they’ll have one week to comply, and then we’ll move to the next step if they don’t comply.
Any suspension time served would be completely independent from the one week to comply. Suspension time is scheduled at the department level and they will want to ensure that services continue, so it may or may not be immediate and may or may be concurrent with the one week to comply.”
January 21 was the exception deadline for employees to submit an exemption request or proof of vaccination with January 31 being the final deadline.
Employees will be given one week to get into compliance after each step in the disciplinary process before the next step commences, which may take a short time in between to implement based on staffing demands.”
She said that currently, 28 city employees are non-compliant but all of those, 27 are currently on leave. That leaves 2 current employees that are still working non-compliant with the mandate. 239 employees have filed for exemption. Management Services Director, Betsy McClinton, reviews and approves the exemption request forms.
Employees on leave will not be required to be involved in the system until they return from their medical leaves, at which time they will begin the process.
At the City Council meeting scheduled for this coming Tuesday, Feb. 8, the Council has been asked by staff to “Approve the removal of Paul Herman from the Burbank Water and Power Board for non-compliance with the City’s COVID-19 Employee Vaccination Policy. The Council has the sole authority to appoint and remove members to the City’s boards, commissions, and committees.”
Herman is the only board member or commissioner not in compliance with the City’s mandate.
If an employee chooses not to be vaccinated and claims medical reasons, they must file a form and attach a medical certification for their healthcare provider stating why they cannot be vaccinated. employees seeking a religious waiver must state that they certify they have “a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance that prevents
me from receiving a COVID-19 vaccination. I also certify that I am being accurate and truthful in stating that I have such religious belief, practice, or observance.”