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Release time for taking the COVID-19 vaccine

To protect the health of our community, the University of Washington encourages employees to obtain a booster shot for COVID-19.

In the event a staff or student employee is unable to secure an appointment to receive a COVID-19 vaccination outside of work hours, the University is granting employees reasonable paid release time of up to two hours to get vaccinated. The release time may include the amount of time to travel and receive the vaccine.

Employees should follow their department’s procedures for requesting release time and should provide as much notice as possible. Recognizing that some vaccination sites open appointment times with little notice, employees should work with their managers to ensure that time away from work does not impede critical operations. Managers may grant additional release time as appropriate and reasonable (e.g., travel distance is great, wait times and lines were lengthy). Employees may be asked to provide proof of appointment when making the request and/or proof of vaccination following the appointment.

Release time for the COVID-19 vaccine is available immediately and until otherwise communicated.

Employees who experience side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine or who need to take time off for a family member to receive their COVID-19 vaccine may request to use other types of time off including sick time off, vacation time off, personal holiday, compensatory time, holiday credit, and discretionary time off. Employees may also request shared leave or may qualify for FMLA depending on the circumstances. Contact your leave specialist if you have questions regarding COVID-19 vaccine related absences not covered by release time.

Consistent with Governor Inslee’s Proclamation 21-08 Safe Workers, the University will not take any adverse employment action against an employee as a result of the employee receiving a COVID-19 vaccination or taking a reasonable period of time off to receive a COVID-19 vaccination or recover from side effects of the vaccine.

Release time FAQs

Is release time for getting COVID vaccines entered in Workday or Kronos? How is release time for taking the COVID-19 vaccines recorded in Workday?
No. Overtime eligible employees record it as hours worked, meaning timekeeping in Workday or Kronos will look the same as if the employee was performing their regular duties. Overtime exempt employees who do not track time should not enter time off for the two hours of paid release time.

What types of time off can an employee request if they need more than the two hours of release time in order to get vaccinated?
An employee can account for missed time using sick time off, vacation time off, personal holiday (for a full day absence), compensatory time off, and holiday credit. If balances are exhausted, unpaid time off may be used, see below.

Can an employee who is out of accrued time off take unpaid time off for COVID-19 vaccine related absences not covered by release time?
Yes. If an employee does not have accrued time off, unpaid time off may be requested for absences not covered by release time such as absences caused by side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine or assisting a family member to get a COVID-19 vaccine. The University may request documentation to support the request. For more information about requesting unpaid time off and potential impacts on employment, view UWHR’s Unpaid time off webpage.

Can release time be applied retroactively if an employee previously used their own time off to obtain a COVID-19 booster shot before the policy was announced?
Yes, release time may be applied retroactively if a staff or student employee used paid or unpaid time off (of up to two hours) during work hours to get vaccinated prior to the announcement of the release time policy.

Are temporary hourly staff or student employees eligible for release time?

Am I authorized for additional release time if the vaccination site runs out of the vaccine prior to my scheduled appointment or my appointment was cancelled right before I arrived?