The rollout of the COVID-19 in late-2020 and early-2021 has not been successful as officials hoped. So it may be some time before younger and healthier employees get their vaccine. Even though the dangers of the virus are well-documented in the news, employees may be resistant to the idea of getting the shots, perhaps because they doubt the vaccine’s effectiveness, or they have doubts because the drugs were rushed to market. Some may be anti-vaxers before the pandemic, and others would not take the vaccine on religious grounds.
Employers can insist
Some employers have insisted that employees (particularly those in healthcare) get flu shots if they are to work, and many others provide opportunities for free flu shots. Businesses open in 2021 can mandate (within reason) that employees get a COVID vaccine before returning to work onsite. From an economic point of view, it may be a selling point for businesses that cater to the public. Still, employers also have the right to mandate vaccinations to address laws regarding all employees’ health and safety in the workplace.
Regardless of how the employer frames it, they will not face personal injury lawsuits for insisting on getting the vaccine even if there are side effects. If there are side effects, these could be handled by a worker’s compensation claim.
Exceptions to the rule
There are some exceptions to the rules mandating workers getting the vaccine. These may include:
- Those protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
- A unionized workforce with collective bargaining likely requires union approval
- Those who can cite valid medical reasons
- Possibly those who qualify for the Americans with Disabilities Act
In cases like these, a creative short term solution may be necessary, such as working from home or switching job responsibilities.
Find a solution for a business
Employers’ and employees’ needs will vary on the company size, type of job, and other unique factors, so businesses will need to determine if mandating vaccinations is the right solution for them. Perhaps other protocols like masks and safety precautions will be enough. Another option would be for employers to reward employees with a bonus or other useful benefits.
Companies trying to navigate these issues will likely need to consult with an attorney who understands these issues. This can also help avoid lawsuits for inadvertently violating the laws that protect worker’s rights.