Can Employers Make COVID-19 Vaccine Mandatory?
The world is wanting to get back to normal. For that to happen, we need to get back to work and do so in a way that is safe for everyone. Things are looking up for employees and employers alike as the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available. However, a big question on the minds of many is, “can employers make COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for employees?” The simple answer is yes; they can.
Guidelines Concerning COVID-19 Vaccinations For Workers
Still, there are a few reasonable exceptions that would protect an employee from mandatory vaccination. There are EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) guidelines and some federal and state laws that permit exclusions and protect the rights of employees who cannot get vaccinated due to religious beliefs or disabilities. If an employer has employees who qualify for these exceptions, they would have to accommodate the employee by reassigning them to another position where they may not have as much interaction with co-workers or customers to keep their risks down or offer them a remote position.
An essential aspect of the COVID-19 vaccines is the education around them and knowing how they work. The COVID-19 vaccinations for workers will not be available for months. Experts say now is an excellent time to communicate with your employees the benefits, safety, and effectiveness of the vaccine, especially if you decide that an employer required vaccine is the way to move forward for your business. The CDC has extensive information and is a resource people trust; citing them could help your employees feel more at ease.
Just Because Employers Can Make COVID-19 Vaccine Mandatory, Should They?
It will be important for the employer to understand their workforce and analyze the risk factors to learn whether or not they should require employees to get vaccinated. For instance, if your employees were not susceptible to COVID-related safety measures implemented within the last year, they may not be open to getting vaccinated.
Whatever your decision, be sure it is an informed one that you believe will work for your organization. The CDC has COVID-19 vaccine resources that may be helpful, and you can read more about the decision making process here.
We also have guidance on how to respond if employees are not willing, or comfortable to come back into the workplace.