COVID-19 has presented plenty of stress and challenges to businesses and the population in general. For many, the COVID-19 vaccine equals peace of mind to the constant worry of contracting the virus. Many employers view it as a way to keep employees safe and healthy, in order to sustain ongoing operations and productivity. But can your business mandate that employees receive vaccines?
To mandate or not to mandate?
There is no easy answer to this question. First, no state or government organization requires employees to be vaccinated. However, employers have been developing their own stances and accompanying policies to mandate vaccines for employees—to the extent of termination if an employee refuses to comply. However, employers could run into legal and staffing issues if they choose to go this route.
Employees can claim either medical or religious accommodations as a reason to deny vaccination. Plus, if termination is the stance an employer is taking for non-compliance, and a large number of employees don’t comply, the employer could run into either massive staffing issues or the decision to allow non-compliance on a case-by-case basis—which could lead to discrimination claims.
Develop a workplace vaccination plan
One way to handle employee vaccination is to provide education on the COVID-19 vaccine through a workplace vaccination plan. This way, you can encourage employees through information about all the reasons why they’re an advantage. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide tips and best practices to disseminate information and allow employees to make their own decisions through informed consent.
Build confidence in the vaccine
You can start from the top-down, with company leaders providing information about the benefits of vaccination. Share information from trusted resources, such as the CDC, so employees know why it’s important and what to expect. Regular updates about safety, effectiveness and how to limit side effects can also help. Your vaccination plan can include a communication strategy to help you plan the timeline for release of communications and what vehicles you’ll use to reach employees.
Offer vaccine clinics or scheduling information
You can make it easy and convenient for employees to be vaccinated by offering an onsite program or connecting with a community vendor. It can also be as simple as sharing information about sources for vaccines and how to schedule. Then, allow employees to time off to get their vaccine and offer no-questions-asked sick leave to recuperate afterward.
It helps to work with your legal counsel if you have any questions about mandating vaccines for your employees, and how to handle non-compliance if you decide to require them.
You can also consult a trusted source of guidance for risk management—Odell Studner. To learn more about the services we offer and how we can help your company mitigate risk, contact us today.