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Everything you need to know about the vaccine mandate, from an employment lawyer

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As the coronavirus surges during a fourth wave, companies are scrambling to keep their workplaces safe. With news that the Pfizer vaccine has now obtained full Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, more businesses are likely to make vaccinations mandatory, creating safer spaces for their employees and customers. Smaller businesses, without risk and legal departments, have been especially challenged. They’re fending for themselves to interpret national and state guidelines, and feeling pressure to follow the protocols set by corporations like Google and Facebook. Each business should evaluate what works best for them.

Factors to consider before instituting a mask mandate in your workplace:

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then mask mandates or strongly incentivizing mask use should be considered for your organization.

The decision to mandate vaccines is a policy that should be vetted carefully. Having a policy, even if it does not specifically mandate vaccines, helps employers set expectations, allowing everyone to plan.

A vaccine mandate may allow for collaboration at the office, prevent an uptick in COVID-19-related sick leave, and make employees feel safer returning to the office. On the other hand, some companies may find employees looking for other work because they are uncomfortable with the mandate. There is additional legal risk because a mandate will trigger a legally required evaluation for individuals requesting exceptions to the vaccination for medical or religious reasons. Medical exceptions will require the employer to engage in the interactive process with the employee to see if a reasonable accommodation is available under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Likewise faith-based exceptions must be evaluated under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. These risks can be minimized if........

© Fast Company

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