The REAL HR Show: Answering Questions about Mandating the Vaccine

We recorded this last Thursday, and we will be doing a similar show this Thursday, so if you have questions (HR ones!), submit them in the comments or send me an email and we’ll get to them!

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14 thoughts on “The REAL HR Show: Answering Questions about Mandating the Vaccine

  1. Should workers presently working remotely be exempt from vaccines mandates? I don’t think the answer is a slam-dunk yes. Certainly, if it’s a sure thing that, in the foreseeable future, they won’t be coming into their employer’s workplace, there’s no risk of their spreading COVID-19 to their coworkers, at least, at present. Apart from the fact that few things in life are “sure things,” does an employer have no, legitimate, interest in the well-being of their employees? Many employers — mine included — use health questionnaires, physical exams, mental health screening and drug tests, as part of the hiring process. Some of those same processes can be utilized during employment, should questions arise regarding an employee’s fitness for duty. In a narrow sense, those things are geared to ensure that employees can safely, and adequately, perform their required duties. But, in a larger sense, employers invest a great deal in hiring, training and retaining employees, and have a legitimate interest in those employees’ ongoing health and continuing survival, extending far beyond their mere ability — or not — to infect their coworkers with a contagious disease. And, obviously, if large numbers of remote workers remain unvaccinated, the pandemic will continue to rage, new variants may emerge that are resistant to our current vaccines and treatments, the World economy will continue to suffer, our employers’ businesses may falter or fail, etc., all of which affects all of us, seemingly making the situation an appropriate concern for a wide-reaching Presidential Executive Order.

    1. That’s a really interesting perspective that I haven’t heard before.

      I don’t think it can pass muster, though, because that some argument could be used to deny anyone without perfect health a job.

      Whatever happens here, it will be interesting to watch.

      1. Well, we’re not really talking about perfect health, just common-sense public health measures. And, I think employers can deny employment to unvaccinated people, right, or at least, require them to submit to frequent testing?

    2. Grannybunny, my employer had similar thoughts about weight loss among their employees. Sent out a very obnoxious email about how overweight people take more sick leave, are more likely to need health care, and are less productive, and tried to implement a mandatory “fitness” program saying it was in their legitimate interest to have a healthy workforce.

      One threat of a lawsuit later though… they stopped and explained it all just a misunderstanding.

      1. I’m a big believer in using the carrot, as opposed to the stick. Instead of trying to punish employees perceived to be engaging in unhealthy practices, wouldn’t it be better for their employers to seek out insurance policies that offered increased care for those wanting to quit smoking (or drinking, or abusing drugs), for example, or wanting to lose weight?

    3. Can someone please in a rational manner explain to me how the unvaccinated are hurting the population because they are getting and spreading the virus? I keep hearing how rare it is that the vaccinated are getting the virus (and spreading it) but currently the ONLY people I know that have covid have been vaccinated????????

      We know the vaccinated can get it and transmit it – why do we think that they ONLY get it from the unvaccinated?

      I am not being an idiot really – I just don’t understand. I am a ones and zero IT person and this isn’t making sense to me -and I have read and read and read. Everything just says ‘everyone must get vaccinated’ and then ‘the vaccinated can get it and spread it’ I.DON’T.GET.IT.

      1. Keep reading. The vaccinated can get COVID-19, and spread it, especially the Delta variant. That’s why the CDC had to change course and recommend that the vaccinated resume masking. However, the vaccinated are much less likely than the unvaccinated to spread COVID-19, get extremely ill from it, require hospitalization, need ventilators or die. The unvaccinated are much more likely to do all of those things. Does that help?

  2. That really is an interesting question, grannybunny. There’s already so much health meddling that employers do with wellness initiatives justified by the fact that illness increases medical insurance costs. If employers can increase the cost of insurance of a smoker who refuses to join a smoking cessation program, even if he never smokes at the office, one would think that by the same logic that the employer could level some penalty on telecommuting employees who don’t get vaccinated.

    1. From another viewpoint, if the employees want to see more money in their pockets, (which the employer would have if they don’t have to pay the increased cost of healthcare insurance) they would try to accommodate a requirement. In your example of a smoker’s cost being higher, you forgot to realize that smoking is a personal choice of the individual, the company is not denying the person the right to smoke but merely telling them that their extra healthcare cost is self-inflicted because of their smoking. Encouraging WellCare, with incentives and cost reductions, should never be considered a negative.
      The same reasoning can be applied to healthcare for older employees. Rather than limiting their access to care, change coverage to specific needs. I highly doubt that a 50-year-old needs the same healthcare that a 20-year-old does, like WellCare doctor visits. When young, one, unless diagnosed with an underlying ailment, one yearly doctor visit is all that is needed, but as one ages, it becomes necessary to see the doctor quarterly for WellCare.

      1. Insurance pools are designed to spread out the costs of care among the largest number of people, in order to keep insurance affordable for the maximum number. Once, we start dividing up the pool — by charging different premiums for certain groups (older people, smokers, women of child-bearing age, people of color, etc.) — we lose the benefit of that cost-sharing. As a result, insurance will become unaffordable for some of those groups. Large numbers of uninsured people not only experience harm to their own, individual, health, but also cause healthcare costs to rise for everyone.

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  4. Any workplace that mandates medical treatment for its workers is on a slippery slope. I would expect that companies doing this will have a severely reduced talent pool from which to hire new people in the future.

    If an employer isn’t allowed to discriminate against someone who has HIV, then why are they allowed to discriminate against people who haven’t had the covid jab? Is it really that different a scenario?

    1. Yes, those are different scenarios. Someone who has HIV cannot change the fact that they have it. Someone who is not vaccinated can remedy that situation. The rare few who cannot get vaccinated — due to disability or religion — can seek reasonable accommodations for their disability or sincerely-held religious belief.

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