As COVID-19 vaccine options become available, employers see this as a way to gain some control over the pandemic and reopen workplaces.
Not all organizations operate efficiently in a virtual environment. For many, the impacts of the pandemic go beyond revenue metrics. Soft costs associated with employee engagement, culture, and retention have skyrocketed.
Because of these reasons, several employers are considering the legalities of implementing a mandatory vaccination policy. The thought process is that if employees are vaccinated, it will lead to a safe work atmosphere. Employees will feel safe to go back to pre-pandemic routines (albeit still wearing masks, social distancing, and handwashing protocols in place).
The EEOC explains that “Employers may encourage or possibly require COVID-19 vaccinations, but policies must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) and other workplace laws.”
Additionally, employers would need to consider possible issues associated with the National Labor Relations Act, e.g., religious beliefs, disabilities, and pregnancy.
A recent article in Bloomberg reports that then President-elect Joe Biden has said he doesn’t support making vaccinations mandatory. In any case, the federal government’s power to impose vaccine requirements is limited.
Employers operating in multiple states must be aware of those states who have introduced legislation designed to prevent private businesses from mandating the vaccine or taking adverse employment action against employees who choose not to be vaccinated.
Some organizations considering implementing a COVID-19 vaccination policy are considering implementing incentive programs such as cash incentives, additional PTO, or reduced employee insurance contributions to encourage vaccination.
For those employees who cannot get the vaccine, some companies are considering providing accommodations such as allowing remote work to continue until it is determined that the workspace can be safe for them to return to.
If your organization is considering a new policy and would like assistance in research with regulations and implementation, contact us. A member of our experienced team would welcome the opportunity to be a resource.