ORLANDO, Fla. - Darden Restaurants said that they will be offering their hourly employees paid time off to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
"To ensure that our team members who want the vaccine do not have to choose between earning income and getting vaccinated, we will provide all hourly restaurant team members up to four hours of paid time off for the purpose of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine," said Gene Lee, Darden CEO.
Darden, which is based in Orlando, Florida, will not require hourly team members to be vaccinated as a condition of their employment, Lee added.
Darden's workers will get two hours of pay per dose -- a total of four hours pay for two doses. The pay rate will be based on an employee's primary job and their total earnings, including tips, over the most recent 13 weeks. However, there is a maximum pay rate of $20. Restaurant managers will also be given "scheduling flexibility" for their own vaccinations.
"We do go out occasionally, but I think we would definitely go out more if we knew that they were protected as well. I’m very happy that they’re supporting their workers," said Debbie Huss, a customer who lives in Lake Mary, Florida. "I think they need to protect them, so I think it’s very important that they do get the COVID shots.
Proof of vaccination will reportedly need to be provided to receive payment.
Lee said employees have been told that even after vaccine rollout, they must continue steps to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. These include abiding by mask-wearing mandates and following all recommended protocols by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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