All employers have a legal and moral responsibility for the health and safety of their employees; therefore, your businesses should develop a written COVID-19 return-to-work strategy.
7 Questions To Consider When Developing An Employee COVID-19 Vaccination Policy:
- 1. Can (or should) we require our employees to get vaccinated?
- 2. How will we communicate to our employees about the reason for a COVID-19 vaccine?
- 3. How will we encourage our employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine?
- 4. Should we incorporate a vaccine policy in our employee handbook?
- 5. Should we provide an incentive for our employees to get vaccinated?
- 6. What will be our workplace vaccination policy?
- 7. Did we provide a copy of our DRAFT COVID-19 vaccination policy to an HR attorney for review (before a final policy is implemented)?
Two Websites To Visit BEFORE Developing Your Employee Vaccination Policy:
We listed two websites below to help you (or someone from your staff) gather additional information BEFORE your organization creates a COVID-19 vaccination policy:
IMPORTANT: Employee Vaccination Exceptions:
For the most part, it is permitted to mandate all employees get a flu vaccine. Nonetheless, there are several exceptions.
- Exception #1: Employees may have a religious objection to vaccines.
- Exception #2: Americans Disabilities Act, a qualifying disability (like those listed by the CDC) which puts someone at an increased risk of a possible side effect(s).
What If An Employee Refuses To Get Vaccinated?
As per the EEOC, a COVID-19 vaccination would not be treated as a medical examination; therefore, it can be required as a condition of entering the workplace.
- If an employee seeks an exception due to disability, under ADA employers are required to seek reasonable accommodation (such as remote work). If an employer cannot accommodate an employee, an employer may exclude the employee from the workplace if it can be proven that this employee is a “direct threat.”
- If an employee seeks an exception due to religious belief/practice, Title VII legislation requires that employers look to offer reasonable accommodation, although in this case only if doing so won’t cause ‘undue hardship’. If this isn’t possible, an employee may be excluded from the workplace. NOTE: Excluded from the workplace doesn’t necessarily mean their employment can be terminated.
Important Note: Creating Your COVID-19 Vaccination Policy.
The decision about whether to implement a COVID-19 vaccination policy will generate controversy and consequences. However, your organization needs to decide if having unvaccinated employees constitutes a health risk for customers/clients and/or other employees.
To help you increase the number of vaccinated employees at your business, you might want to consider the following tips:
- Host an on-site vaccination drive.
- Provide an incentive to get vaccinated.
- Advise all unvaccinated employees that they must wear a mask while working (or be discharged).
Executive Summary: When creating a vaccination policy, employers should take into account its local/state laws, and bear in mind that their right to mandate vaccines may be altered when dealing with unionized employees.