Published: September 20, 2021

SEIU members reach agreement with State on Vaccine Mandate implementation.

When Governor Brown issued a vaccine mandate to State employees, our union immediately issued a demand to bargain because we knew that workers’ voices needed to be part of the process. Through bargaining surveys, tele-town halls, and numerous conversations with members across the state, we honed in on the priority issues for our members: safe worksites, access to leave for getting the vaccine and recovering, and a clear exceptions process for employees unable to get the vaccine. We’re proud to say we were able to win language that gets at all these priority issues, and more!

This agreement is a win for public health and a reminder that we must always include the voices of essential workers who are often the people most impacted by policy decisions.

Here are a few highlights of the agreement:


  • Vaccinated employees, or employees with an approved exception, will be able to request up to 80 hours of hardship leave when quarantining or recovering after a COVID diagnosis. Employees will also be able to donate sick leave in addition to vacation and compensatory time.
  • Full reopening of state offices will be delayed until January 1, 2022.
  • The employer will provide information to employees about COVID-19 vaccines that may be useful to answer questions or concerns from employees considering whether to get vaccinated.


  • The State will seek to provide on-site COVID-19 vaccination. When on-site vaccinations are not an option, the State will provide information weekly about where to access the vaccine near worksites.
  • Employees will be allowed work and/or flex time to get the vaccine during normal work hours, when possible.
  • Employees who can’t get the vaccine during normal work hours will be compensated for the time it takes to get the vaccine, pursuant to Article 32 – Overtime, if applicable.
  • Employees unable to work due to adverse reactions to the vaccine shall use accrued sick leave for the time needed to recover.
  • An employee who exhausts their sick leave will be granted miscellaneous paid leave (MPL) for the time needed to recover. If more than one day of MPL is needed (not including first shift), the employee will be required to get documentation from a health care provider indicating the need for time off work, and expected length of time needed to recover.


  • The State will make reasonable accommodations for employees unable to be vaccinated due to disability, qualifying medical conditions, or a sincerely held religious belief. Reasonable accommodations may include, but are not limited to, remote or telework (where possible), transfer of positions, shift changes, or physical modifications to the employee’s work area.
  • Employees seeking an exception must do so on or before October 18, 2021.
  • After October 18, 2021, if an exception request is denied, the employee will have seven days from the denial to begin the vaccination process (get first dose) before the State takes personnel action.
  • Between the time of denial and full vaccination status, the employee will use accrued vacation or compensatory time or leave without pay to cover the time until full vaccination status is reached.
  • Exception denials are not grievable, but the employee may seek recourse through BOLI or other legal avenues.


  • Employees must begin the vaccination process (received at least one dose) or the exception process (submitted written request for exception) by October 18, 2021 in order to avoid personnel action.
  • Employees who have begun, but not completed the vaccination process will have until November 30, 2021 to become fully vaccinated, and avoid personnel action.
  • Between October 18, 2021 and the point of full vaccination status employees will be expected to work remotely, if possible. If remote work is not possible, employees will use accrued vacation or compensatory time or leave without pay to cover the time until full vaccination status is reached.
  • Employees who have entered into the exception process on or before October 18, 2021 will be allowed to complete the exception process before the State takes any personnel action. The employee will be allowed to continue working while awaiting a decision on their exception request.


  • The employer will accept any COVID-19 vaccination that has been either fully approved by the FDA or authorized for emergency use.
  • Proof of vaccination may include, but is not limited to a COVID-19 vaccination record card, a copy or digital picture of the vaccination record card, or a print-out from OHA’s immunization registry.
  • These records will be kept separate from the employees’ personnel files. The employer will not disclose whether an individual employee is vaccinated. General vaccination level information may be disclosed if it is de-identified and in the aggregate (i.e. 95% of the agency’s employees have been vaccinated.

Read the full agreement.