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SALT LAKE CITY – A new infusion of federal funds is now available for Utah's small businesses that have employees taking time off due to COVID-19 vaccinations. Eligible businesses can apply for that money starting Tuesday morning.
The state knows many hourly workers don't feel as though they can take time off to get vaccinated. That's why the Governor's Office of Economic Opportunity, Go Utah, came up with the Small Business Employee Vaccination Grant to eliminate that barrier.
"There really hasn't been a grant or solution like this," said Kori Ann Edwards, managing director of operations at Go Utah.
The Small Business Employee Vaccination Grant provides reimbursement to Utah small business employers that pay employees for time off to either receive a COVID-19 vaccine or recuperate should they experience side effects after their vaccination. https://t.co/OkxtoaluFZ— Business Utah (@BusinessUtah) November 15, 2021
Small businesses in Utah can use money from the grant to pay employees for time off to either get a COVID-19 vaccine, to recuperate if they have side effects after their shot, or to be with a dependent getting vaccinated or recuperating.
"By reimbursing an employer to compensate that employee for the time off, we're hoping that those individuals that want to get vaccinated now have an opportunity," Edwards said.
Hourly workers, who often do not get paid time off, can take up to 20 hours of paid leave and the state will reimburse their employers. Using federal CARES Act funds, $500,000 is available through the new Small Business Employee Vaccination Grant. The money may be used for both full-time and part-time employees to cover average salary and tips.
The Governor's Office of Economic Opportunity begins accepting applications Tuesday at 9 a.m. and they want employers to know about it.
"It's really for those non-benefited workers that don't traditionally get access to paid time off," Edwards said.
A Utah Department of Health survey found that some Utahns are not getting vaccinated because work gets in the way.
"They just couldn't afford to take time off either to go get the vaccine or to recuperate if they need a day after the vaccine if they're not feeling well," she said.
Eligible Utah businesses must have fewer than 50 full-time employees who work 40 hours or more a week. They also must have one or more employees who will receive paid time off to either receive a COVID-19 vaccine or to recuperate after vaccination.
"I think once the word gets out, I'm really hoping that it all goes fast because that means people are getting vaccinated," Edwards said.
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You can also get more information on where to go for a vaccine at the state of Utah's coronavirus website.