Last Award Covering Uniformed Fire Department Employees Issued


PHILADELPHIA — The City of Philadelphia today announced that an interest arbitration Panel governing the implementation of the City’s workforce vaccine mandate for uniformed employees of the Fire Department represented by the International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 22 (“Local 22”) issued a final Award adopting a Vaccine Mandate Policy (the “Award and Policy”) for covered employees and setting a Thursday, June 30, 2022 deadline for employees to be compliant with the mandate.

The Award and Policy issued today address the consequences for non-compliant employees. Highlights include: 

  • Covered employees who do not provide proof that they have received at least a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or have an exemption request to the vaccination requirements submitted by Thursday, June 30, will be placed on Unvaccinated (U-Vax) Leave beginning Wednesday, July 6, 2022. 
  • Employees on a leave of absence on Thursday, June 30 must comply with the mandate before being permitted to return to work.
  • Employees who are not fully vaccinated by Thursday, June 30, regardless of reason, are required to follow additional precautions, including double-masking or wearing a N95 or equivalent and submitting to routine COVID-19 testing. 
  • Employees who receive a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Thursday, June 30, 2022 must complete their vaccination series within 14 days of the schedule prescribed for the vaccine they received.
  • Any employee who has an exemption request denied will have 10 calendar days to submit an appeal. If the appeal is denied, the employee must receive a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine within 14 calendar days and complete their vaccination series in a timely manner or be considered out of compliance with the mandate.
  • Employees will be placed on U-Vax Leave for a maximum of 30 calendar days following their removal from work for failure to comply with the mandate. Employees on U-Vax Leave will be required to utilize accumulated paid vacation, holiday and compensatory time and will be unpaid if they do not have sufficient time paid leave available. 
  • Employees who do not come into compliance by becoming vaccinated or submitting an approved exemption request by the end of the U-Vax Leave may be separated from employment.
  • Individuals separated from employment for failure to meet the vaccination requirements of the Award are entitled to reinstatement for one year following the date of their separation, subject to their meeting all qualifications of the position, including any vaccination requirement, provided that the Fire Department has budgeted vacancies in the position to which they seek reinstatement.

“The safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines remain the best way to protect Philadelphians and save lives in the ongoing struggle to fight this pandemic,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “As I have said before, as public servants, we bear a responsibility to mitigate the harm that would result from inadvertent transmission of COVID-19 to our colleagues and the public and to set an example for other organizations and companies. Our firefighters, paramedics, and EMTs are on the front lines—sworn to protect and serve our residents with honor and I want to thank them for their steadfast service in the face of adversity. I also want to thank the arbitration panel for coming to a fair and reasonable resolution for everyone.”

While City employees may not simply opt out of vaccination, the City’s policy—and the Award and Policy handed down for employees represented by Local 22—does provide for religious or medical exemptions. Employees granted an exemption from the vaccination requirements will be required to follow additional safety protocols, including routine testing. 

The full Award can be found online.

With this Award, all City employees, unionized and non-represented, are now fully covered by the City’s vaccine mandate policy.