Mandating COVID-19 Vaccines in the Workplace?

As the nation eagerly awaits the distribution of a vaccine to combat the coronavirus, U.S. employers are beginning to ask whether they can require their employees to get vaccinated. Our advice? Hurry up and wait. Once the COVID-19 vaccine is available, we recommend employers encourage their workforce to receive the vaccine, but not require it until the government approves a mandate.

Here are some items we do know about the vaccine. We know it will be delivered to hospitals and nursing homes throughout the nation first, and after that it is uncertain which workforces will be eligible to receive it. We also know the vaccine has only received “emergency use approval,” which means it is not analogous to the Flu shot that has received formal government approval and can be required for employment. Further, the EEOC has not yet signaled whether an employer may require employees to take the COVID-19 vaccine. And from a workforce perspective, we know employers will inevitably face pushback from employees who feel uncomfortable with the novelty and unknown long-term effect(s) of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Employers should also not expect the vaccine to create immediate results. Employers will need to be patient and continue to maintain CDC best practice recommendations in the workforce for months to come.

Companies however should still plan to be ready when the vaccine is available for their workforce. When that occurs, employers should consider whether vaccines for their employees are necessary, and if so, how to implement a vaccination program tailored to their employees. Employers can also encourage employees to voluntarily take the vaccine by educating employees about the benefits and risks of the vaccine, bearing the cost, and offering bonus incentives, or discounts on health insurance premiums.

There are many questions relating to the vaccine that currently do not have concrete answers. Stay tuned for more on this topic. As your company navigates the many issues associated with the COVID-19 vaccine, we are here to strategically advise and tailor policies for your workforce. 

Questions? Please feel free to contact Monty & Ramirez LLP
at 281-493-5529.

Monty & Ramirez LLP
150 W. Parker Road
Houston, Texas 77076

Phone: 281.493.5529
Cell: 713.922.6264