State ready to help Utah small businesses get employees vaccinated

Coronavirus Updates

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – While the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for businesses with 100 or more workers is facing legal pushback, Utah is preparing to help small businesses get their employees vaccinated.

The state has launched the Small Business Employee Vaccination Grant, which has made $500,000 available for small businesses to pay employees for time off to receive a COVID-19 vaccine or recuperate if they experience side effects after getting a dose. The Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity says the program will begin accepting applications on November 16 at 9 a.m.

“We’re grateful to be able to offer the Small Business Employee Vaccination Grant to qualifying companies around the state,” says Gov. Spencer J. Cox. “We hope this will help provide the opportunity for even more Utahns to receive the important COVID-19 vaccine, especially if they haven’t been able to because of their work situation. Our hourly workers, who often do not receive paid time off, can now take up to 20 hours of paid leave, for which the state will reimburse their employers.”

The grant is part of Utah’s federal CARES Act funds and the statewide response to the coronavirus pandemic. According to the state, the grant offers employers reimbursement to provide paid time off for employees who are otherwise ineligible for paid time off. Funds can be used for both full-time and part-time employees to:

  • Receive a COVID-19 vaccine
  • Recuperate after receiving the vaccination
  • Take a dependent child (5-18 years old) to receive the vaccine, or
  • Be the caregiver for a dependent child (5-18 years old) who needs assistance to recuperate after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

Until the $500,000 grant funds are dispersed, grants will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

To be eligible for the grant, Go Utah says businesses must have:

  • Less than 50 full-time Utah employees who work 40 hours or more
  • One or more employees who will receive paid time off to either receive a COVID-19 vaccine or recuperate after their vaccination

The employer must pay the employee for time off before the end of the year. According to Go Utah, employers have until Jan. 20, 2022, to submit applications for reimbursement. Requested funds cannot exceed the amount the employer paid to the employee or employees for time off related to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine or recuperating after receiving the shot. Employers can receive a grant reimbursing them for up to 20 hours per employee.

For more information about the application process, click here. For more about eligibility, click here.

This comes just days after the Utah Legislature passed a bill granting workers exemptions from workplace COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Governor Cox has not yet signed the bill into law but he has previously stated he would not support legislation blocking private businesses from issuing vaccine mandates.

“It’s government still telling businesses what they can and can’t do, and I’m opposed to that,” he affirmed.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with corrected information from the state about what the funds may be used.

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