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Will Iowa’s newest law save an employee of Sanford?

That is the question on the employee’s mind as of early Saturday morning due to a letter they received that was dated Oct. 28.

“Per the COVID-19 Prevention Program, mandatory COVID-19 vaccination is required for all Sanford and Good Samaritan Society employees unless exempt due to a medical condition or a sincerely held religious belief,” the letter states. “You have not submitted documentation indicating that you are willing to comply with the vaccination requirement, nor have you received an approved medical or religious exemption.

“Therefore, you will be suspended and will be taken off the work schedule effective Nov. 1, 2021. You are required to return all Sanford-owned equipment, work supplies and your Sanford badge to your direct leader at the end of your last shift.”

Employees were told they’d remain suspended until the earlier of Dec. 31, 2021 or such time when the employee receives the full series of COVID-19 vaccination or an approved exemption.

Employees are required to use accrued Paid Time Off during the suspension. Once PTO is exhausted, the remainder of the suspension will be unpaid.

Employees are told any benefits they have will remain during suspension, but they will be responsible for their portion of premium payments. Once PTO is exhausted, any portion not collected through payroll deduction will be placed in unpaid status and collected on the next paycheck in addition to the regular premium for that check. If they do not return to work, the unpaid premiums will be handed over to the Sanford Business Office for billing and collection. If after three months there is still an outstanding balance, the billing office will continue with collection activity that may include an outside agency.

The letter concludes:

“This suspension is not a protected leave. If at any time business conditions necessitate the need to replace your position, you will be notified by your leader. If your position is filled during your suspension, you may reapply for positions at Sanford at a later date pending you have received a full series of COVID-19 vaccination or an approved exemption.”

One employee sent a statement for a medical exemption on Friday afternoon. They received this letter later in the day.

We should find out in a few days the fate of employees of Sanford. Stay tuned.

Author: Jacob Hall