Amtrak is aiming to get 100% of its workforce vaccinated for the novel coronavirus and it is willing to extend pay and benefits to make it happen.
The 50-year-old national train service sent a news released to FOX Business detailing its plans to encourage Amtrak workers in light of the public health crisis.
Amtrak will grant excused absences to employees who receive vaccinations during the regularly scheduled work hours and pay an allowance that is equivalent to two hours of straight time wages. Documentation needs to be provided as proof of vaccination in order to take advantage of these offered benefits.
Additionally, Amtrak will offer an excused absence as well as protected pay to any employee who needs to miss work due to vaccine side effects. The excused absences and protected pay will be applied up to 48 hours after vaccination.
In the case of an employee being unable to return to work due to side effects that are lasting more than 48 hours, Amtrak will continue to protect pay so long as “appropriate documentation to medical services” is submitted.
“Recognizing the vaccine offers the best way to protect ourselves, loved ones, coworkers, we are doing our best to ensure all employees have vaccine access while delivering a new standard of travel for our customers,” Amtrak’s written statement to FOX Business says.
Before Amtrak was offering work incentives for vaccinations, the train service offered protected pay to employees who were infected by the novel coronavirus.
Amtrak employed more than 18,600 workers in 2019, but that total number is likely to be different after the railroad service was forced to furlough thousands due to the coronavirus pandemic. Updated employment numbers for the fiscal year of 2020 have yet to be published in Amtrak’s corporate profile.
The national train service transported a record 32.5 million customers that year as well. It is not immediately clear how many travelers used Amtrak in 2020 amidst shelter-in-place orders.
Protective face masks and social distancing have been required aboard Amtrak trains and property since May. An executive action was signed by President Joe Biden that went into effect Jan. 26 and mandates travelers wear masks on all commercial travel, including trains, planes and buses.
As of Monday, more than 26 million American have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Dashboard. An estimated 443,100 Americans have passed away from complications related to the respiratory illness.