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What Employers Need to Know About COVID-19 Vaccines

Americans are eager to return to work and school. And while many of your employees are willing to accept the COVID-19 vaccine — one that works on their genetic makeup and was developed in record-breaking time — it’s easy to see why some employees remain reluctant.

The COVID-19 Vaccine is Not Required by Law 

While no law says your staff must be vaccinated to return to work, employers are responsible for making the workplace as healthy as possible as we return to normalcy. Once the vaccine becomes available to the average person, 64% of working Americans are likely to get the vaccine, according to the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Discrimination Issues: Be Careful Requiring Vaccination as a Requirement to Work

Generally speaking, no federal law prohibits an employer from facilitating or encouraging a COVID-19 vaccine. You are allowed to require it as a condition of employment.

However, there are mandatory vaccination policies concerns under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, as well as issues covered by the Genetic Information and Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).

In many states, workers’ compensation laws would preempt and limit any claim against the employer for alleged negligence in connection with a mandatory vaccination program. Coverage for voluntary vaccinations provided by employers is not as clear and depends on individual state law. Alabama, however, is an at-will state, so employers can enforce a vaccine policy.

Employers should continue to monitor developments in the area, including potential federal and state laws that would provide immunity from vaccination injury claims. Liability for such vaccinations will be one of many legal and employee relations issues employers will need to consider before adopting a vaccination policy

Can an Employer Contract with a Provider for Voluntary On-Site Employee Vaccinations?

At this time, nothing prevents you from contracting with a vaccine provider, other than a lack of vaccines on hand.

But again, we’d suggest employers move forward very thoughtfully.

Perhaps a better solution would be to allow a paid day off for all employees–call it an “annual health day”. Encourage employees to seek a vaccination from their preferred provider if they’d like one.

At the end of the day, transparent communication between employers and employees is crucial to ensure everyone is on the same page and is staying healthy at work and at home.

Starke Agency has been serving the River Region for over 90 years. Whether your business is large or small, Starke can help. Contact us today for a complimentary analysis of your current insurance program.