Returning to Normal Post COVID

With state governments relaxing their lockdowns thanks to vaccines, many companies are beginning the slow progress of coming back to their office’s full time. With companies like Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan announcing their plans to bring people back to work, many smaller companies are debating what they should do in relation to this.

The biggest issue concerning return to work initiatives is how to handle those who are not vaccinated. Unfortunately, vaccine hesitancy is rampant, with one CNN poll saying at least 30% are either hesitant or possibly not even considering getting the vaccine. In another poll, 70% of employees polled want their employers to issue a mandate before they return to a physical office. [1]Even then, those without the vaccine could feel discriminated or ostracized for not getting the shot, which can lead to potential claims.

Despite the dubious legality, companies can ban employees from their office if they aren’t vaccinated, and even demand a vaccination with the exception of documented religious exemptions. In general, companies have the legal right to mandate that employees get a COVID-19 shot, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said back in December. More specifically, employers are entitled — and required — to ensure a safe workplace in which "an individual shall not pose a direct threat to the health or safety of individuals in the workplace." That can mean a company requiring its workforce to be vaccinated.”[2]

According to Mike Smith, President and CEO of Axis Insurance Services, LLC “It’s a very fine line that employers may require vaccinations or require proof of vaccination. They should evaluate if they really need to. Unless there is a compelling reason to know, I wouldn’t either require or ask as that can create issues with discrimination or Title VII (religious beliefs). Whatever you decide, just make sure that you apply your policies consistently among your employees.

 

[1] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/covid-vaccine-employees-return-work-office/

[2] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/eeoc-covid-19-vaccine-employers-exclude-unvaccinated-workers/

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