HR Hot Button: Can you Madidate a COVID-19 Vaccination?

Mandating COVID-19 Vaccination

COVID-19 has really shaken up the way the world operates. It’s changed the way we do pretty much everything. And it’s the opinion of many that a vaccine is the route back to a more normal existence—at work, at home and everywhere.

As an employer, you may have considered requiring all employees to get vaccinated. After all, it would make for a much smoother process to help work-at-home employees return to the office, and keep everyone safe and healthy… right?

Vaccine Mandates and Legal Concerns

It is legal to require mandatory vaccination among your employees. However, there are other concerns you may wish to consider before implementing this measure within your workforce.

First, you could face liability issues if an employee has an adverse reaction to the vaccine. And any review of social media posts will tell you—the range of physical reactions to the vaccine range from mild to severe; it all depends on the person.

Religious Exemptions

Your employees may also decline a mandatory vaccine by claiming religious exemption. And this is perfectly within their rights based on the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Disability Exemptions

Employees can also decline the COVID-19 vaccine by claiming a disability exemption. This applies if they have a disability covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Though temporary, pregnancy is considered a qualifying disability under the ADA—another reason an employee could decline the vaccine.

Labor Relations and Unions

What about employees who participate in a union? This could also become an issue if union members are strongly anti-vaccine or simply do not wish to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Union members can also decline the vaccine under protection from the National Labor Relations Act.

What’s the Best Course of Action?

The vaccine is still new to the market and experts have recommended taking time to make a plan of action for vaccinating your workforce. A mandatory vaccine requirement could be viewed by your employees as harsh, decreasing their loyalty and productivity, and even ruining your brand reputation. Perception is important, and people want to work for a company they feel has their best interests at heart.

If you’re wondering about next steps to take, it’s best to consult your legal advisors first. This way, you can rest assured your actions are within the limits of what is right for your business.

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