I have several clients who are struggling with this topic right now. This is not a political statement and I certainly understand people have personal views on this topic. I think it’s important that we openly discuss it, honor those who choose not to get vaccinated, and help them find alternative employment options (work permanently from home, find other employment, etc.) I don’t believe it’s fair to risk the health of those in common areas (work, meetings, conferences, flights, etc.) who have chosen to get vaccinated.
The bottom line, the decision to require employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19 isn’t an easy one. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) says you can make the vaccine mandatory (with some exceptions), but implementing that rule isn’t as simple as telling employees to get the shot, writes Inc.com columnist Suzanne Lucas. Your vaccine policy needs to balance business needs and public health concerns with a healthy dose of realism.
If you do want to require vaccines in your office, be sure to consult an employment attorney to stay in compliance with the law. Here is the step-by-step guide to rolling out an effective vaccine mandate in her column:
1. Create a Statement of Need – Simply state that you want to keep your business safe. Here’s an example from the Society for Human Resource Management:
In accordance with [Company Name]’s duty to provide and maintain a workplace that is free of known hazards, we are adopting this policy to safeguard the health of our employees and their families; our customers and visitors; and the community at large from infectious diseases, such as Covid-19 or influenza, that may be reduced by vaccinations. This policy will comply with all applicable laws and is based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health authorities, as applicable.
2. Timeline – Because of widespread availability, this can be fairly short.
3. Exceptions – ADA, Religious, and Pregnancy are a few.
4. Consequences – If you choose to have a mandatory vaccine policy, like Google, Facebook, Walmart (corporate offices), and Disney have done, you need to have a consequence for not vaccinating. That consequence can be termination. If you’re not prepared to terminate unvaccinated employees, you may wish to strongly encourage employees rather than require vaccinations. Companies that struggle to recruit now may find it impossible with a vaccine mandate.
5. Consult with a local employment attorney – Your vaccine policy needs to comply with federal, state, and local laws. If you operate across state lines, you need to ensure compliance with all states. Keep in mind that not all states allow mandatory vaccinations. There is also a myriad of state laws that you need to keep in mind. This is not a situation where you want to make a policy on your own and then find yourself in court.