DBM Announces New Inadequate EPSL Program After AFSCME Members Organizing

Members on the frontline continue to risk exposure to COVID-19 simply by reporting to work. As the pandemic began and using federal funding, all employees were granted access to Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) to be used when exposed and prevent employees from depleting their own leave because of the risk assumed simply by reporting to work. AFSCME fought for a continuation of this policy and won an extension until June this year. When this program expired in June, the Hogan administration declined to negotiate further despite the continued spread of COVID-19 and significant remaining federal funding.

Since then, AFSCME members have been fighting in our workplaces and in the legislature to urge DBM to reinstate and extend the EPSL program. Ultimately, extending this leave would cost far less than risking an outbreak in our facilities, institutions, and offices. AFSCME members have been leading the fight for health and safety protections since the beginning of the pandemic.

Despite our repeated attempts to negotiate a better and more comprehensive policy, yesterday DBM announced a new and limited EPSL program. Beginning on November 3, 2021, through December 31, 2021, vaccinated employees or those with valid vaccine exemptions who test positive for COVID-19 using a PCR (non-rapid) test are eligible for up to 10 days (no more than 80 hours) of COVID-19 leave to use in place of an employee’s own leave or leave without pay to recover from COVID-19. 

Read their policy here

This policy was issued by DBM despite our insistence that it should be further negotiated and expanded to protect all frontline employees. Our counterproposal included, but not limited to, eligibility for all employees to access this EPSL, 40 days of leave, access to this leave if you are forced to quarantine or have childcare issues related to the pandemic.  The Hogan administration rejected all our improvements.

To be eligible for COVID-19 Leave, employees must either: (a) be fully vaccinated and have vaccination records on file with Human Resources (HR) PRIOR TO the date of the first day of leave requested, OR (b) have a medical or religious vaccine exemption approved and on file with HR PRIOR TO the first day of leave requested.   

We encourage all members to communicate with HR about securing your records and using this benefit.