We began 2021 with appointment-only lobby access in all branch offices and capping staffing levels at non-branch facilities at 25 percent of normal occupancy.
Our first responsibility continued to be to help ensure the safety and well-being of our employees and their families and enable them to continue to provide high-level, uninterrupted support to our clients. To support employees and their personal needs during the pandemic, we kept in place the benefits we created in 2020.
We provided up to two weeks of additional paid time off to employees who are unable to work for reasons related to COVID-19. We also continued to offer a COVID-19 hardship leave benefit, comparable to the benefit created under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which provides up to 12 additional weeks of expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. When vaccines became available, we provided paid time off for employees to get their vaccination, as well as time needed to recover from side effects. Through December 31, 2021, we paid over $475,000 in COVID-19 leave benefits.
All employees had access to resources to support mental health and wellness through our Employee Assistance Program.
We reopened our branches to walk-in traffic in June 2021 and increased maximum staffing levels at non-branch facilities to 50 percent of normal occupancy in July and then to 100 percent in November. To create the safest possible work environment for employees in our offices, we instituted a COVID-19 vaccine requirement, with appropriate accommodations for medical and religious reasons, which resulted in over 99 percent of our employees being vaccinated.