All employees of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission will be required to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 27, under a policy adopted Thursday to put the agency in line with requirements set forth by Gov. Charlie Baker and Attorney General Maura Healey for the state employees they oversee.
The commission voted unanimously to give its employees two weeks, until Sept. 9, to either show proof of vaccination, to schedule a vaccine appointment or to request an exemption on religious or medical grounds.
"I absolutely think given the state of affairs this is the way to go," commissioner Eileen O'Brien said.
The vote makes the Massachusetts Gaming Commission the latest state agency to adopt a strict vaccine policy that does not give employees the option of regular testing if they don't want to be vaccinated.
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Gaming Commission Executive Director Karen Wells said she does not know what percentage of the agency's employees are already vaccinated, but she said based on feedback from staff she believes the policy "will be welcomed."
In keeping with the timeframe to get all employees vaccinated, the commission set Monday, Nov. 1 as the date for the full reopening of its downtown Boston office on Federal Street, though employees are able to work from that office now if they choose.
When employees do return, they will be able to request flexible work schedules under a plan also approved Thursday to pilot a hybrid work model that would allow most employees to work at home up to three days a week and managers two days a week.
All employees, under the plan, would be required to be available between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. and would have to fit their core work hours into a daily window of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Wells said the hybrid model may not be available to all employees depending on their responsibilities, and efforts will be made to create opportunities for all employees to interact in person on occasion to foster an inclusive work environment. The agency will also be making "reasonable" efforts to make sure employees have the equipment they need to do their jobs at the office and at home, knowing that the office will be available to all employees at any time.
"The managers need to work with employees to make sure the needs of agency are being met," Wells said.