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Backpay for unvaccinated Richmond city workers

The vaccine mandate will be lifted for Richmond city workers on April 8
Nine fire fighters refused to comply with the City of Richmond's vaccine mandate.

A mediated resolution at the end of March means Richmond city staff members who were put on unpaid leave on Dec. 20 will be allowed to return to work and get back pay to Feb. 21.

This resolution comes just days before the city lifts its vaccine mandate on April 8 when these workers would have been allowed back to work anyway.

Thirty-six city staff members, including nine fire fighters, refused to show proof of vaccination and were put on unpaid leave late last year.

Three unions – representing Richmond fire fighters, inside workers and outside workers – grieved the vaccine mandate imposed by Richmond city council last fall.

The issue was settled with a mutually-agreed-upon mediator, Randall Noonan.

Noonan was the arbitrator who ruled in December that the city’s vaccine mandate could continue when the unions asked for an emergency decision.

In his January decision, Noonan said he didn’t have enough evidence to prove there was an acceptable alternative to the city’s mandate that would “meet the goals of preventing the spread of the virus while eliminating those personal consequences.”

Those employees who aren’t vaccinated cannot work in “front-facing” jobs until the vaccine mandate is lifted on April 8, explained city spokesperson Clay Adams.

Some staff who went on unpaid leave chose to use their vacation time to cover this period – this vacation time will be reinstated, Adams explained.

While the city has to pay retroactively to Feb. 21, this money is in the city’s budget, he added.