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COVID-19 Vaccine Workplace Summary:
- Employers are trying to do right by their workforce.
- FAQ list to understand what employers can and cannot do when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Updates from the CDC; exploring workplace vaccination programs.
As employers are trying to make the best decisions about safety in the workplace, the topic of COVID vaccinations is all-consuming. Even so, President Biden, after holding out on creating any mandates around the COVID-19 Vaccine, proposed an upcoming rule in September authorizing private employers with 100 employees or more to require employee vaccinations or have employees undergo weekly testing.
COVID-19 Workplace Vaccine Programs
As of October 20, 2021, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) released a statement around COVID-19 Workplace Vaccination Programs. In summary, the CDC states the following:
- An employer may require employees to be vaccinated.
- Employers can ask about vaccination status. Doing so does not violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
- Implement benefit and incentive programs to encourage employees to receive the vaccination, such as bonuses, extra PTO, gift cards, etc.
- Host a Q&A session with a physician or trusted professional.
- If an on-site vaccination clinic is available:
- More than one opportunity to receive the vaccine be available.
- Provide COVID-19 Vaccination Record card.
- Allow enough time for recovery and post-vaccination monitoring.
With that, according to stats provided by KTT.org, 1 in 4 workers share their employers has put a requirement on receiving the COVID-19 vaccination, with only 5 percent of employees choosing to leave when required to receive the vaccine. Over half of workers are still in favor of employers not requiring the vaccine.
Other considerations based on the full CDC’s COVID-19 Workplace Vaccination Program Guidance:
- Be patient with employees and provide research to make informed decisions.
- If providing vaccinations on-site, provide vaccinations to all employees if you have a blended workforce (i.e., contract and temporary employees). Both the employer and the staffing agency are responsible for providing a safe workplace.
- Report adverse effects. The CDC has guidance on enrolling employees in v-safe.
- Two types of vaccine exemptions can be implemented: medical and religious.
Employers and the COVID-19 Vaccine
So, what does all of this mean for the employer and employees? Below is a short and sweet FAQ list around employer and employee rights when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine. These questions and answers are supported by the EEOC’s Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act. We have outlined this act in a previous article around Hiring Regulations during COVID-19.
Q: Can an employer require employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes, an employer does have the choice to require employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Q: What can employers ask current employees?
A: An employer can ask, “are you fully vaccinated for COVID-19, and can you provide proof?”.
Q: What can’t an employer ask?
A: An employer does not have the right to ask for any other supporting medical documents.
Q: What if my answer is, “No” to being fully vaccinated for COVID-19?
A: If you have not been fully vaccinated, then the employer does not have the right to ask you, “Why not.” However, the employer does have the right to enforce safety policies in the workplace, such as asking you to wear a mask, work from home, or provide a recurring negative COVID-19 test.
Q: What can employers ask potential employees?
A: Currently, it is not advisable for employers to make vaccine status a pre-requisite for employment. Therefore, providing proof of vaccination during an interview is currently not necessary. When hired, the employer can provide their office policy about vaccinations and work safety.
Profiles COVID-19 Workforce Coverage and Updates
Profiles is continuously working to understand the developments of the COVID-19 Pandemic as it pertains to the workforce. Updates to this article will be made as more information around the COVID-19 vaccine and the workforce become available.
Click here for all Coronavirus Resources and Updates.