More Employers Consider Vaccine Policies
As U.S. vaccination numbers rise,employers consider vaccination policies
The vaccine effort in the United States has ramped up nicely. Recently we have seen dispersion as high as 2.5 million a day. The federal government will send out 27 million doses of vaccine soon — so the challenges of vaccination are going to change rapidly.
The rapidly expanding vaccine supply makes it more likely that employers will get access to vaccines from state and local public health authorities. While problem solving this, it is becoming even more evident that an employer should protect their workplace by establishing and implementing a vaccination policy.
Employers consider vaccination policies
In a recent 2021 Emerging Trends survey of 446 employers with 6.3 million total employees. There seems to be an increase in employer efforts to communicate about COVID-19 vaccination and develop policies and procedures. This leads us to some questions that we feel are relevant.
More than a third of employers (35%) have developed policies and procedures to make it easy for workers to get the vaccine; another 50% are considering doing so.
For more questions on this topic and a podcast as well, visit the MyHRBuzz blog.
What is an employer’s responsibility as it relates to the COVID-19 vaccine and what are their risks?
According to EEOC guidance from Dec 12, 2020, employers can mandate
employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine with two caveats:
- Employees can invoke the protection of the Americans with Disabilities Act claiming that they suﬀer from a disability that precludes vaccination
- Employees can claim that their religious beliefs under Title VII prevent them from receiving the vaccine.
What are the risks of an employer if they don’t require the vaccination?
Examples of these risks include:
- Are you creating an unsafe work environment?
- OSHA considerations with regards to occupational diseases and hazards in the workplace
- Potential workers compensation liability because the employee claims they contracted COVID-19 from a co-worker which leads to a worker’s compensation claim
Employers are going to have to do an analysis or “assessment” of each individual situation to determine:
- Does that refusal to get vaccinated pose a direct threat to workplace?
- Is there a reasonable accommoda8on that can be made to address the direct threat?
- If there are no accommoda8ons, can the employee be “excluded” from the workplace?
Things to keep in mind: When you are faced with a potential ADA or Title VII accommodations and have done a direct threat analysis, the risk is still greater for those employers who have a mandatory policy.
Can I request a copy of my employee’s COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card?
Employers seeking proof of vaccination must be careful not to request medical information from their employees. Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card includes only limited information, such as the date of the vaccine dose, the type of vaccine, and where the vaccine was received, which is not considered medical information under current guidance from the EEOC, employers should review state and local requirements before requiring any type of proof that an employee has received the vaccine.
If there is any doubt as to whether the information provided by the employee could be considered medical information under federal, state, or local requirements, employers should be cautious and treat the information like any other medical information collected or obtained from their employees. The information should be secured in a separate location from the employee’s personnel file and should not be shared with anyone who does not have a need to know.