Los Angeles Finally Ends Covid Vaccination Requirement For Municipal Employees

June 11, 2024 - Culture

More than a year after the Los Angeles City Council lifted the city’s declaration of emergency related to the coronavirus, council members today ended the policy requiring municipal employees to be
vaccinated for Covid.

Council members approved an ordinance in a 13-0 vote to terminate the vaccination policy for all current and future city workers retroactive to June 2, as recommended by the city’s Executive Employee Relations Committee. Council members Curren Price and Katy Yaroslavsky were absent during the vote.

In addition, the ordinance established a pathway back to employment for city workers who had been terminated for not adhering to the policy, and others who may have left voluntarily.

Some 15 people spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting to express their support for the ordinance and frustrations with city leaders for imposing the policy on workers. The speakers also urged the council to mandate that any employees terminated for compliance should be returned to their positions, and offered back pay.

Matt Szabo, city administrative officer, told City News Service the sunset date was agreed upon by the unions representing the city’s workers, who also helped the council when it enacted the vaccination policy in 2021.

The provision regarding re-employment is expected to assist some 86 workers who were fired for non-compliance with the policy. Szabo noted many other workers left, but the city did not have an exact number who might be affected by the provision because workers are not required to disclose their reasoning for departure.

Workers who left or were terminated due to the policy can reapply for their position, but it is not guaranteed they’ll get it. Department management would handle the hiring process, as usual.

The city of Los Angeles withdrew its declaration of emergency pertaining to Covid in February 2023. In May 2023, the federal government also declared an end to the Covid public health emergency.

In 2023, several Southern California cities have phased out their requirements for workers to be vaccinated against Covid as a condition of employment, including Long Beach, San Diego and Pasadena. In addition, Los Angeles County, Orange County and the University of California system as well as the Los Angeles Unified School District have also ended that requirement.

Szabo said that, in part, the decision to terminate the policy took time because initiating the mandate was such a substantial effort. City leaders wanted to proceed with caution before ending the requirement, he added.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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