Employer COVID Vaccine Mandates – What To Know
With all of the uncertainty we are facing today, business owners and employees alike may be wondering about employer COVID vaccine mandates, the legality of workplace vaccination mandates, and how to protect employees’ privacy.
ESS – Employer Support Services is a dedicated source of HR, payroll, and benefits solutions for businesses of all sizes. We aim to assist businesses with reliable HR management solutions. Contact us today for help from our experienced HR team.
Can Employers Require COVID Vaccines?
According to the United States Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC), employers can require employees to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. However, they do need to provide reasonable accommodations for employees who cannot be vaccinated due to disability, including disability for pregnancy-related conditions, or due to sincerely held religious beliefs.
Reasonable Accommodations for Employer COVID Vaccine Mandates
While employer COVID vaccine mandates in the workplace are legal, they need to make certain accommodations for those who will not be vaccinated due to disability or religious exemption. Some examples of reasonable accommodations include requiring the unvaccinated employee to:
- Wear a facemask at all times in the work place
- Maintain social distance and limit contact with coworkers
- Work a modified shift
- Working from home
- Submit to periodic COVID testing
How employer COVID vaccine mandates are enforced will vary from company to company. Some employers may choose to separate employees who refuse vaccination, while some may require a signed waiver from the unvaccinated employee or a modified work schedule and environment.
Employers who wish to enforce vaccination mandates in the workplace must ensure that these mandates comply with EEOC regulations, and that they do not discriminate against employees based on race, the color of skin, religion, sex, or national origin.
Employer COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate Incentives & Education
Companies may also choose to educate employees and families about COVID-19 vaccines and raise awareness about the benefits of vaccination. Additionally, employers can offer incentives for employees who provide proof of vaccination or who receive the vaccine.
Employers who are incentivizing vaccination are offering small cash bonuses, gift cards, and extra paid time off (PTO) to increase the vaccination rates at their company. However, according to the EEOC, if the vaccine is provided by the employer, these incentives cannot be so substantial that it coerces employees into receiving a vaccination.
Can My Employer Require Documentation of Vaccination?
Employers may require proof of vaccination from employees who claim to be vaccinated. The employer must maintain the confidentiality of these records as not to violate the employee’s privacy.
[Related: How to Reopen Your Business After COVID-19]
The Bottom Line – Employer COVID Vaccination Mandates
Employers are entitled to maintain a safe work environment. Part of the environment safety standards can be requiring employees to be vaccinated against certain diseases like influenza, polio, meningitis, or, now, COVID-19.
Employers can legally require vaccination or proof of vaccination, provided they follow the guidelines provided by the EEOC. Employers should also keep in mind that this situation is relatively new and is still evolving. Make sure your workplace policies are in line with local, state, and federal laws and mandates.
If your company is searching for help with human resource management, whether it is general HR or navigating the difficult landscape of employer COVID vaccine mandates, don’t hesitate to contact the experts at Employer Support Services.