Duluth requires vaccines or testing for city employees

City of Duluth employees and interns face a Nov. 15 deadline to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or be subject to weekly testing beginning December 1.

Unvaccinated employees who have had a positive COVID-19 test within the last three months will not be required to undergo the weekly testing.

The policy was adopted September 27 but not publicly released until this week.

"The City continues to track guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Minnesota Department of Health, and Saint Louis County and are making decisions informed by that guidance to protect employees and the public," Chief Administrative Officer Noah Schuchman said in a statement Friday

The policy says "COVID-19 testing is job-related and consistent with business necessity" and says that a positive test "will not be used as the basis for discipline or discharge."

Unvaccinated employees who refuse to test will be sent home on unpaid leave. After a fifth week of refusing to take a test, employees are subject to termination.

"Prior to being placed in no-pay status, Employees will be offered a meeting with their supervisor to learn the reasons for being placed in no-pay status and to tell their side of the story. The Employee may have union representation at the meeting," the policy reads.

The policy stipulates that city administration may determine that an employee no longer requires testing.

Employees who receive vaccinations after Dec. 1 will be removed from the testing requirement if they provide proof of vaccination.

A new federal vaccine or testing requirement for large companies will take effect Jan. 4, 2022. Several employers, including Essentia and St. Luke’s, have already begun their own testing requirements.