STUART, Fla. — Martin County employees who have received the coronavirus vaccine are now eligible for paid COVID-19 leave.
It's for workers who have been exposed or who have contracted the virus that are unable to work remotely.
Unvaccinated employees are not eligible. Instead, they will need to use personal sick leave if exposed or sick.
"If we don't work to keep our employees safe, they can't provide services to our communities," said Martha Ann Kneiss, communications coordinator in Martin County.
The policy also includes paid leave for vaccinated employees who are caring for a quarantined child.
"The monetary and very close to monetary rewards, when you start away people's vacation and medical and paid leave, it looks like a vaccine mandate, even if they're just in the form of policy of guidance," said Siri Terjesen, a business professor at Florida Atlantic University.
As more employers offer incentives to get workers vaccinated, Stuart small business owner Lisa Freitas said the Martin County policy is not one she'd impose.
"Whether you're vaccinated or you're not vaccinated and you get sick, you should be equivalent across the board and we all get the same care or same benefits, whatever it might be," said Freitas at Lisa Gay Fashion.
"It's really just based on a business decision that we need to provide continuity of serviced for our residents, and it's a way that we can count on having as many staff members here and healthy to do that," said Kneiss.