We at the Melita Group realize that many of you have a great deal of concern and many questions about the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations. While much about this process is still unsettled, we hope to provide valuable information as you navigate this challenging and unprecedented situation.
Can employers require employees to be vaccinated?
While it is best to consider a highly recommended but voluntary vaccination program, employers must consider what is best for their organization.
Employers can require employees to be vaccinated with certain considerations. Employers must show the vaccine is a job-related necessity for each position of those employees being asked to receive the vaccine. If work is being done onsite, the employer must establish a direct threat of causing a significant risk of substantial harm to other employees in order to require employees to receive a vaccine.
What choices do employees have regarding vaccination?
If a mandatory vaccination program is implemented, employees may choose to either be vaccinated onsite or be vaccinated by a provider other than the vendor used by an employer. Proof of vaccination from that provider, but no other health information, should be accepted by the employer.
What information can be collected from employees?
Employers or vendors who complete vaccine administration must complete a medical screening prior to the administration of the vaccine.
To maintain compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), this screening must not contain questions about health conditions other than COVID-19. While the administration of the vaccination itself does not violate any considerations of the ADA, no other health history should be collected.
What accommodations must employers make during vaccine administration?
Employers should make a reasonable attempt to allow vaccinations to be administered during employees’ normal working hours, without requiring employees to utilize lunch or break periods. If employees are required to be vaccinated outside of their regular schedule, employers are subject to applicable wage and hour regulations.
What else should employers consider?
Certainly, whether to require vaccinations or not is a difficult decision for employers to make. There is no “one size fits all” way to make this decision. It depends on what is best for your industry and organization. Employers should consider the risk factors for their overall population.
- How could your employees, vendors, service recipients and clients be affected by our decision?
- Is there an ongoing ability for our employees to perform essential operations remotely?
- What capacity do we have to consider accommodation requests?
- Can we provide a vaccination program and ensure employees’ data privacy?
- What are our requirements under collective bargaining agreements?
- What potential costs would we have under workers compensation if an employee contracts COVID-19 while working?
We will continue to monitor this situation as it unfolds and provide further information as it becomes available.