Based on a recent Gallup survey on the COVID-19 vaccine, 35% of people plan to decline vaccination, even if provided free of charge. This outcome means that while many employees will get the vaccine, others will completely dismiss it due to various reasons.
If this notion is anything to go by, employers will be in a particularly challenging position as they focus on meeting their obligations of providing a safe work environment.
To minimize employee conflict and address workplace safety and health concerns, some employers are considering pushing for mandatory vaccinations. For instance, healthcare employers may recommend immediate mandatory vaccinations to protect both patients and employees.
Regardless, industry leaders expect that mandatory vaccination will still face numerous challenges. Employers may, therefore, need to accommodate employees seeking exemption on disability, pregnancy, or religious grounds.
Another considerable challenge would be employees who oppose vaccination due to health risks and anti-vaccination groups. Besides, if employees experience adverse reactions to the vaccine, employers may thereby be forced to deal with arising claims and workers’ compensation.
Here are some of the critical considerations for employers as they prepare their COVID-19 vaccination policies:
- Consider whether implementing a mandatory vaccine policy is necessary for your organization. Alternatives like physical distancing and remote work, among others, can minimize the transmission of coronavirus.
- If a company deems that mandatory vaccination will be necessary, consider starting with high-risk departments, worksites, or locations—where other similarly effective ways of limiting the virus transmission aren’t viable.
- Organizations that choose the mandatory vaccination plan will want to evaluate and administer multiple accommodations and exemption requests. Potential accommodations will include PPE usage, temporary transfers, and modification of work roles, among others.
- Some employers will find it beneficial to impose vaccination deadlines based on new CDC recommendations. They will need to assign the work of ensuring compliance with those regulations to well-trained health committees, departments, or employees. They should also plan for how they will deal with non-compliant employees.
- Employers must determine whether it is feasible to subsidize the vaccine costs or even provide them on-site for employees’ convenient access during their regular shifts.
- Evaluate your labor composition and identify whether you will need to negotiate with the union before implementing any vaccination program.
- Employers must review current insurance policies and state employees’ compensation laws. This strategy can help firms’ define their potential liabilities or provide meaningful incentives to their employers to safeguard a firm against compensation claims.
- Since the issue of COVID-19 vaccines is a quickly developing matter, employers can keep track of new regulations, laws, and further guidelines from state and federal authorities to stay updated.
Alternatives to COVID-19 Vaccination
Requiring mandatory vaccination may not be practical for all worksites or some employees. However, there are some notable strategies that employers can use to keep their workforce healthy, including:
- Reassigning employees: Although employers can reassign any unvaccinated employees, they must avoid radically changing employment environments in a manner that would seem like demotion or punishment.
- Mandatory face mask use: One way to accommodate employees who don’t want to get vaccinated is to wear a face mask at work.
- Expanding remote working programs: Remote work will likely be a critical alternative for personnel whose roles don’t require their physical on-site presence.
The COVID-19 health pandemic requires consistent adaptation from employers to respond to a quickly changing work environment. Likewise, employers ought to remain flexible and cautious as they create plans around COVID-19 vaccinations. Also, initially encouraging voluntary employee vaccinations would be a good idea for most employers as more information about the vaccine, including its risk factors and efficacy, are brought to light with time.