Does Your Business Need Guidance About A Vaccination Policy?
Things to Consider About a Vaccination Policy
While many are still undecided about being vaccinated, numbers for the COVID-19 Delta Variant are continuing to rise. As an employer, should there be a vaccination policy in your employee handbook? This article aims to clarify that whether an employer requires vaccines or makes them voluntary, including it as a clear policy within your handbook could save you great risk.
As with all employment-related topics during the pandemic, employers should exercise sensitivity and flexibility when creating a COVID-19-related policy and clearly communicate the basis for their decisions and the expectations of employees.
Overview of What to Include in a Mandatory Vaccination Policy
Guidance for a Mandatory Policy
- The policy should clearly identify whether the policy will extend to remote or on-site employees.
- If mandatory, include the rationale for making the policy mandatory, (ex. protecting employee’s health and safety)
- A mandatory policy should clearly identify the deadline by which employees must receive all doses of the vaccine.
- If an employer is making vaccines available on-site, there should be communication about precisely when the vaccines will be made available and at which location(s).
- Employers should be aware that according to federal regulations, the time an employee spends waiting for and receiving medical attention during the employee’s normal work hours is compensable.
- The policy should state how the employees will be required to prove their immunization.
- Remember that any information regarding an employer’s proof of vaccination should remain confidential, and separate from personnel files.
- Employers will need to consider employees who choose not to receive a vaccine for medical or religious reasons. Any mandatory policy should also clearly set forth the process by which employees can request an exemption or other accommodation if the employee declines the vaccination on account of a qualifying medical condition or a sincerely held religious belief.
- The policy should identify who employees should notify in HR about receiving an accommodation and how to request one. The policy should also assure workers that they will not be subject to retaliation for exercising this right, to avoid any discrimination claim. Accommodation request forms should be provided to the employee.
- The policy should communicate any consequences for anyone not exempt who fails to receive the vaccine by the stated deadline. Some consequences might include safety measures, unpaid leave or termination.
What About a Voluntary Vaccine Policy?
Guidance for a Voluntary Policy
- If an employer is not mandating the COVID-19 vaccine, it may still be a good strategy to issue a written policy strongly encouraging COVID-19 vaccination and identifying sites where employees may receive the vaccination.
- If an employer chooses to offer any incentives in lieu of requiring the vaccination should clearly outline the criteria for earning the incentive. Employees should not consider the incentive coercive.
- An employer may also consider issuing a written policy requiring employees to disclose their vaccination status, without requiring vaccination.
- Such a policy should clearly identify if employees must self-attest to vaccination status or show a copy of proof of immunization. Keep in mind that all information regarding an employer’s proof of vaccination should be confidential, and separate from personnel files.
Where to Publish these Policies?
Writing these vaccine policies into your handbook is a proactive way to mitigate any future confusion. Use an employee handbook to communicate your workplace expectations.
With a properly worded handbook, your employees will always know what their roles and duties are. This may include COVID-19 vaccination policies, compensation (both financial and otherwise), protection, and workplace safety.
Because investing in the handbook can often relay company expectations, and protocol, you want to create one that gets attention. Using a reputable resource such as MyHRConcierge can be very valuable.
For assistance with adding COVID-19 policies to your employee handbook contact us today. We have helped many companies protect themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic with amendments to current workplace policies and more.