SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- As we near closer to the date Bay Area cities are requiring city employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, some of those employees are submitting exemptions.
All San Francisco city employees are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 1, unless they are otherwise required to be vaccinated on a faster timeline due to public health orders. San Francisco's Department of Human Resources tells ABC7 News it has provided an exemption pathway for employees who have sincerely held religious beliefs or qualifying medical reasons.
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The exemption process is two-fold; employees must demonstrate a qualifying medical or religious basis for an exemption and the department must be able to provide the employee a reasonable accommodation.
In an emailed statement, the San Francisco Department of Human Resources writes, "Because of the very serious health and safety impacts COVID-19 has on our workplaces, the City does not expect all employees who have a qualifying medical or religious basis for an exemption can be approved for a workplace accommodation because the possible accommodations would place their coworkers' and the public's safety at risk."
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The city's website goes further stating to qualify, an employee must demonstrate that their belief is both sincere and religious rather than secular or scientific.
Employers like the city of San Francisco are not required to accommodate employees if it would cause an undue burden on operations. For example, if the accommodation would be costly, infringe on other employees' job rights or benefits, compromise workplace safety, decrease workplace efficiency, or require other employees to do more than their share of potentially hazardous or burdensome work, the accommodation is not reasonable.
Meantime, the city of Oakland tells ABC7 News, the Employee Mandatory Vaccination Policy which will apply to all city employees, including police officers and firefighters is still in draft form.
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The draft mandate which has not been approved yet states, "Under the policy, all employees must, as a condition of employment: (1) report their vaccination status to the City no later than October 15, 2021; and (2) be fully vaccinated and verify that vaccination status to the City not later than November 1, 2021, unless the employee has applied for an exemption, and unless stricter State or Federal legal requirements apply."
The city is in the process of finalizing the language based on input from discussions with employee unions. Once finalized, employees will have an opportunity to claim a medical or religious exemption.
San Jose employees have until Oct. 1st to get vaccinated as a condition of their employment. They can request an exemption based on a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance.
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