Pasco County employees who get vaccinated will receive $500 in premium pay, under a plan approved last week, by the Pasco County Commission.
The $500 in premium pay is for every county employee who is fully vaccinated, regardless of whether they are already vaccinated, or if they get vaccinated before Nov. 1.
The additional pay will be distributed to qualifying employees on Nov. 12.
The county also will be providing premium pay to county employees who worked during the pandemic, with the exception of those who are already receiving a bonus from the state of Florida.
Employees who were employed in 2020 and are still employed now will receive $500 in premium pay. Those who were employed in 2021 and are still working for the county will receive $250.
Those bonuses will be included in employees’ Sept. 17 paycheck.
County Administrator Dan Biles explained the thinking behind the premium pay plans during a presentation on the county’s plan for spending funds received through the American Rescue Plan Act.
He told commissioners that about 50% of the county’s employees have been vaccinated.
“Our firefighters are actually vaccinated at a lower rate than 50%,” he said.
The county wants to get its vaccination rate up into the range of 70% to 80%, Biles said.
At the same time the county wants to increase its rate of vaccinated employees, it also wants to decrease potential medical costs, Biles said.
“We’ve only had about 10% of county employees actually test positive with COVID. Those 10% actually cost $3.4 million in COVID claims.
“We’ve surveyed the counties and cities around us. Many of them are using what I will call negative incentives to encourage people to get vaccinated.
“There are a couple of counties in the state who have basically said, ‘If you’re not vaccinated by a certain date, you are no longer a county employee.
“Several counties are doing more on the, if you are not vaccinated, you have to test weekly.
“Some of the areas around us, if you’re vaccinated, you don’t have to wear a mask. But if you’re not vaccinated, you have to wear a mask and are subject to testing on a recurring basis.
“Those are all what I would consider negative incentives and I would actually prefer to do a positive incentive to encourage people in a positive manner. Give them a carrot, as opposed to a stick,” he said.
“It makes good business sense, and additionally, I think it’s the right thing to do for our employees,” Biles said.
“It’s less expensive operationally, from a budgetary perspective, to pay people to get the vaccine — that are county employees — than to go pay for their health bills, health insurance bills,” the county administrator added.
He also explained the other bonus plan, to reward employees who have worked for the county “during the pandemic.
“The governor and the state legislature approved premium pay for public safety employees and teachers. It didn’t make sense for one section of our employee base to get premium pay from the state and not do a premium pay on the rest of the employee base,” he said.
So, the county developed its own plan.
Published September 01, 2021