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Mayo Clinic to warn unvaccinated employees instead of placing them leave

In October, Mayo Clinic pledged to place any of its 73,000 employees who declined to be vaccinated against COVID-19 on unpaid leave in December with the intention of terminating them in January. That recently changed to notifying unvaccinated employees with a warning letter on Dec. 3 instead of putting them on leave. However, if nonexempt workers do not receive at least one vaccination shot by Jan. 3, Mayo Clinic will still end their employment.

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Mayo Clinic's Gonda Building Monday, March 22, 2021, in downtown Rochester. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)

In an effort to protect vaccinated employees’ holidays, Mayo Clinic has changed its initial approach to dealing with unvaccinated staff members.

In October, Mayo Clinic pledged to place any of its 73,000 employees who declined to be vaccinated against COVID-19 on unpaid leave in December with the intention of terminating them in January.

That recently changed to notifying unvaccinated employees with a warning letter on Friday, Dec. 3, instead of putting them on leave. However, if nonexempt workers do not receive at least one vaccination shot by Jan. 3, Mayo Clinic will end their employment.

ALSO READ: Minnesota legislators want answers about Mayo's religious exemptions to COVID-19 vaccine mandate Mayo will start putting employees who decline to be vaccinated on paid leave. They will be terminated a month later.
“To advance the primary value of Mayo Clinic – the needs of the patient come first – Mayo is requiring all staff to either be vaccinated for COVID-19 or receive a medical or religious exemption. As of today, 93 percent of Mayo staff across all locations have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine,” stated Mayo Clinic spokeswoman Kelley Luckstein on Thursday. “A number of staff have received medical and religious exemptions. Staff who remain unvaccinated and who did not receive a medical or religious exemption will receive a final written warning on Dec. 3.”

Luckstein declined to say how many employees have received a medical or religious exemption. Four Republican state lawmakers recently wrote a letter to Mayo Clinic asking for details of the process to acquire a religious exemption. They claimed that “dozens” of Mayo Clinic employees had contacted them about being denied a religious exemption.

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Mayo Clinic did not respond to questions about if the vaccination requirement applies to workers contracted to work on the campuses, but who are not Mayo employees.

Mayo Clinic cited vaccinated employees as the reason for the decision to just warn unvaccinated staffers instead of putting them on leave in December.

“Mayo Clinic transitioned from an unpaid leave beginning Dec. 3 to a final written warning to avoid placing additional stress on vaccinated staff and potentially having to revoke previously approved paid time off in December,” wrote Luckstein.

Overall, Mayo Clinic’s number of vaccinated employees continues to increase. In July, Mayo Clinic reported having 16,498 unvaccinated employees. That number dropped to 8,978 by October .

The latest report of 93 percent of the workforce being vaccinated translates to about 5,100 employees without the shots. Mayo Clinic began its employee vaccination program in December 2020.

Luckstein stressed that the goal of the vaccination requirement is to keep staff and patients safe and Mayo Clinic would prefer to not terminate any employees.

“While Mayo Clinic does not want to lose any of its valued staff," she wrote, "Mayo remains firmly committed to requiring vaccination for staff to help ensure the safety of our patients, staff, visitors and communities.”

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