You Can Require Employees to Be Vaccinated for Covid-19, but Should You?

The COVID-19 vaccine roll-out is happening throughout the U.S., bringing with it the hope for a return to normalcy and—for many employees—a return to the office

While many of your workers will likely be lining up to get the vaccine as soon as they’re able to, others might be more hesitant. This raises an important question for organizations: can you require your employees to get vaccinated if they plan to return (or continue going) to work in person? And, perhaps even more importantly, should you?

You Can Require Employees to Be Vaccinated, But There Are Rules to Follow

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued guidelines for employers on requiring the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of work. In a nutshell, employers can require the vaccines, but they have to be mindful of employee protection under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The act states that employers can’t discriminate against employees with disabilities or certain medical conditions, and can’t require employees to undergo medical examinations as a condition of their jobs. That is unless the employer can demonstrate that such testing is necessary to confirm the individual’s ability to perform the essential functions of the position. 

To keep reading, click here: You Can Require Employees to Be Vaccinated for Covid-19, but Should You?

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10 thoughts on “You Can Require Employees to Be Vaccinated for Covid-19, but Should You?

  1. Well, you can’t really require employees to get vaccinated NOW, unless you’re in a hospital or nursing home setting, for example, where vaccines are available, since most of us are, currently, unable to get vaccinated, despite our best efforts, due to the shortage of supply. However, once vaccines become available to everyone, I do think employers should require those employees who must work on site to get vaccinated, in order to meet their duty to provide a safe workplace for everyone else. The number of employees who cannot receive the vaccine due to a disability should be infinitesimally small, since there are few contraindications. And the type of accommodation required for religious beliefs — unlike accommodation for disabilities — is minor; a religious accommodation becomes unreasonable if it causes more than a de minimus hardship, an exceeding low legal hurdle. As a result, when all is said and done — you still have to go through the interactive accommodation process — there shouldn’t be very many remaining employees exempt from vaccination requirements due to disabilities or religious beliefs.

    1. While I agree with you in theory, granny, there are lots of anti-vaxers out there and many people who still think the whole thing is a government scam. Therefore, the real question is, would you be willing to fire an employee who refuses to get the vaccine?

      1. I think you would have to fire an employee who refused to follow a workplace safety policy. There are people who think they have a “right” to smoke, too, or to openly carry a firearm anywhere they please. No one would hesitate to fire an employee who violated anti-smoking or weapon-free restrictions (although, for the latter, having armed security present during the process would be prudent).

  2. If the producers of these substances, there’s a long debate if they should even be called “vaccines”, don’t take responsibility for their products and all the EU governments were forced from Brussels to do that instead of the producers, can you as a company ask employees to take a substance that not even the producer takes responsibility for?

    1. What you refer to is not really new. All adverse reactions to vaccines in the US by the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program for decades. It removes the adversarial nature of a normal legal dispute. It makes it *easier* to file for – and collect – a claim because the standards are a *lot* lower than a traditional lawsuit.

      The purpose is to let the pharmaceutical company concentrate on the medical issues, rather than expend their resources on legal issues.

  3. I wonder how this advice might change if proof of vaccination is required for travel, a policy some countries have considered. If those who need to travel for business are restricted from doing so because they opted out of vaccination, what would their employers do? How would the problem and the solution differ between the employee who had medical cause to pass on vaccination and the employee who had no medical reason but still chose not to be vaccinated?

  4. Based on the slow vaccinations, which is partially caused by the numbers of vaccines being produced (supply versus demand), this is an issue to prepare for and coordinate for when more companies go back to in-person office working situations and since it is a public health issue, the question of requirement is mote. Of course, we will have those who will have issues but the policy to put into place should cover all the exceptions and have mandates in place to deal with this. You as a company, have a right to demand a requirement of vaccination as part of the job unless every person works in a vacuum with no contact with others. People need to work to earn a paid living and if their personal lifestyle, physical conditions, beliefs, etc, create a situation that doesn’t allow them to accommodate a job requirement, that’s their personal choice to not work in an in-person job, as you have made the accommodation. This is why teachers are going to have to choose in the coming months to come back to in-person instructions, once all are vaccinated, or lose their teacher positions, as remote learning is failing our students.
    There are going to be problems of adjustment in all jobs concerning vaccinations. Thanks to the anti-vaxers and not enough upfront information on this vaccine, the issue is going to be ongoing, especially when people are also inconsistent in the following safety precautions for multiple reasons. If the job requires interpersonal contact with others and the employee isn’t the type of person who follows safety precautions either, you, the employer, have a right to demand compliance under OSHA regulations. Yeah, I know people think that only applies to food handling but those standards are the basis of safety precautions. As it is not right and hazardous to improperly handle a food supply, so is contact with people by an infected person passing this disease on to others. Let the lawyers handle the semantics of the wording of the requirement or are will the world become a society of people who need to be subsidized because they don’t /can’t/want to work but want to be paid to exist.

    1. @MariaRose – I would have been more concerned about the vaccine development if I hadn’t read an article in Smithsonian magazine a few years ago. It described how scientists were working to improve vaccines and the various breakthroughs. At the time, it just wasn’t of interest to a wide readership.

      Smithsonian Mag ran multiple articles in 2017 about pandemic preparedness.

      Also, I know there have been anecdotes about online learning not being successful but I’d like to see the data before dismissing online classes.

      Have a good day

      1. Ask the parents – I am a manager of 2 employees who can work from home – but are having to be teacher to their children too – and work at the same time. I assumed zoom or teams with all the students logged in and the teacher standing there teaching. That is not what happens. The students log in, get assignments and do the work. The parent is left trying to explain to their children – often when they themselves don’t know what the purpose of the lesson is or understand it themselves. In our district the kids have to use 3 different programs for their lessons – one being a place where they write essay style in a program that is NOT a word processor – according to one of my co-workers shortly after remote schooling started with her having 3 kids at home – their family quickly suffered a meltdown. People I know can’t wait for their kids to get back to in person school. I don’t know what I would have done – I am NOT a teacher and couldn’t imagine being forced to become one.

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