Many businesses here in New Jersey are considering implementing a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy. Although a business can mandate the vaccine, there are some things that need to be considered.
Using a Third Party to Administer the Vaccine
If your company retains someone to give the vaccine on-site, it must ensure that no confidential medical information is obtained in the process. When using a third party to administer the vaccine, the company can require proof from that third party that the vaccine was administered. But again, the company should not have access to the employee’s confidential medical information.
Employees that Refuse the Vaccine
Your company must be prepared for employees who refuse to get the vaccine for medical, religious or other reasons. If an employee refuses to get the vaccine, your company would have to engage in an interactive process to determine whether that employee being in the workplace without being vaccinated would pose a direct threat to other employees.
If an employer concludes an employee is a direct threat, the employer might have grounds to terminate the employee, but only after considering whether the employer is able to accommodate the employee working remotely.
Alternatives to Mandatory Vaccinations
If your company chooses not to mandate the vaccine, you still have every right to highly encourage employees to obtain the vaccination before they return to the office. You can consider the following:
(1) develop and share vaccine education information;
(2) make the vaccine readily available to all employees;
(3) provide paid time off to employees to get the vaccine and recover from any potential side effects from the vaccine;
(4) provide minor incentives for employees who get the vaccine
Consider incentives with limited value, such as a modest gift card. Offering employees a paid day off may also be a possible option.
Be mindful that offering vaccination incentive programs can give rise to discrimination claims from employees who cannot or will not participate. Those who may claim such programs as discriminatory may include disabled workers with health conditions that prevent them from safely getting vaccinated, or workers whose religious beliefs are in direct conflict with vaccination.
Draft a Written Policy
If you choose to implement a mandatory vaccination policy, prepare a written policy to work through these and other issues your company may have, and to educate your employees about the policy. In drafting the policy, you may decide a mandatory policy is best for you, or you may conclude simply encouraging the vaccine is most beneficial for your company.
Let Marzano Human Resources Consulting help you through this process. We will discuss with you the options above and draft a policy which will be best for your business, ensuring you mitigate risk while also maintaining the trust of your employees.