Orlando-based Darden Restaurants to offer workers paid time off for COVID-19 vaccinations

Vaccination not required as condition of employment

ORLANDO, Fla.Darden Restaurants plans to give its hourly workers some paid time off to get a COVID-19 vaccine, once they become eligible.

The Orlando-based company, which operates chains such as Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse, announced the paid time off in a release on Tuesday.

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“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,” according to the release.

The company said hourly workers will receive a total of two hours of pay for each dose of the vaccine and up to four hours of total pay for complete vaccination.

Darden said the payment will be based on the worker’s total earnings, including tips, over the most recent 13 weeks. The maximum pay rate will be $20 per hour.

Employees who have not worked in the past 13 weeks will receive a pay rate based on their primary job, but that will not be less than any given state’s minimum wage, according to the company.

Darden said proof of vaccination will be needed in order to receive payment.

The company is not requiring vaccination as a condition of employment for hourly workers.

Darden employs more than 180,000 across 1,700 restaurants, according to its website.

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