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KCMO considers adding COVID-19 paid sick leave for city employees

KCMO City Council COVID-19 sick leave
Posted at 5:25 PM, Jan 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-12 18:48:50-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City leaders are considering a measure that would give city employees up to 10 days of paid sick leave if they contract COVID-19.

Employees are no longer entitled to the emergency sick days outlined in the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act.” It was a federal requirement on certain employers to grant sicks days for COVID-positive employees, but the requirement expired on Dec. 31, 2021.

Kansas City’s Human Resources Department proposed an ordinance that would continue to provide that same safety net.

“So, make it retro to Jan. 1 and then expiring Dec. 31, 2022,” Director of Human Resources Teri Casey said.

Employees could be entitled to paid sick leave if:

  • They test positive for COVID-19
  • They are required to quarantine by the Kansas City Health Department’s standards
  • They have not already used their 10 paid sick days
  • They are not able to work virtually

Multiple members of the Finance, Governance and Public Safety Committee were concerned about the fairness of the ordinance as employees would also need to be vaccinated to qualify, while others felt it was an appropriate requirement.

“I don’t believe that the citizens of Kansas City, Missouri, should be required financially subsidized for bad decisions by our city employees in the form of choosing not to get vaccinated,” Councilwoman Kathryn Shields said.

Councilwoman Melissa Robinson and Ryana Parks-Shaw had concerns about the medical and religious exemption process.

“I want to make sure that we’re treating individuals fairly in this process,” Robinson said. “There’s people who medically can’t get the vaccine, and they may be impacted by this and should not be penalized.”

Reginald Silvers, president of a worker’s union called Local 500, said even those exemptions are not enough.

“Giving vaccinated 80 hours to be off when they are ill, and not awarding that to the unvaccinated, it just seems unfair,” Silvers said. “We’ve got vaccinated people that’s getting ill — vaccinated people that’s passing away. So it’s not the unvaccinated that’s the problem. It’s a larger problem.”

With multiple questions around the fairness of the exemption process, committee members decided to hold the proposal for another week.

“I just have a hard time voting for something that I think is splitting the staff versus bringing them together.” Councilwoman Heather Hall said.