Compliance Breakdown: COVID-19 Vaccines in the Workplace

As COVID-19 vaccines become available, many employers are wondering whether they can require employees to get vaccinated. 

That’s why we asked Michele Kauinui, Director of HR Services at simplicityHR by ALTRES, for a breakdown of what workplaces can and cannot require.

Kauinui advised that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently released new guidance (see Section K) that gives answers to a broad range of workplace vaccine related questions. 

In summary, employers may encourage, and possibly require, COVID-19 vaccinations as long as policies comply with workplace laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, according to the EEOC. The vaccination itself is not a medical examination, but pre-vaccination medical screening questions are subject to the ADA standards for disability-related inquiries.

In the case of an employee who is unable to receive a COVID-19 vaccination because of disability or sincerely held religious belief, they may need to be exempted from the mandate or provided with reasonable accommodation.

If an objecting employee is covered by a collective bargaining agreement, the employer may need to reach an agreement with the union before mandating vaccines.  

It is important that employers fully understand EEO and other federal and state laws before taking any adverse action.

Staying on top of workplace compliance is a full-time job, that’s where the experts at simplicityHR by ALTRES come in. To learn more about this issue or to schedule a free consultation on the advantages of human resources outsourcing, contact simplicityHR.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Readers should first consult their attorney or adviser before acting upon any information in this article.