As COVID vaccines become more widely available, employers have big questions to answer: Should they require it for all employees? What if employees refuse? And what accommodations must be offered?  

For starters, yes, you have the legal right to require that employees get a COVID vaccination, the EEOC said recently. However, the agency made clear that you must provide exemptions or accommodations to workers who have religious objections or workers who have disabilities that may prevent such shots.  

Nearly half (49%) of working Americans believe that employers should require COVID vaccines for their employees, according to a new survey of 1,000 U.S. employees by Ipsos and Eagle Hill Consulting (see box below).  

“Employers must get in front of the vaccine issue today…The work force is clearly split on employer vaccine mandates, so it’s going to be contentious no matter where an employer lands on inoculation requirements,” says Melissa Jezior, CEO of Eagle Hill.  

Iyou’re going to mandate vaccines, put it in writing. Prepare to articulate an objective business reason. Apply it impartially to all, and listen to your employees.  

Rather than forcing employees, consider incentives. Example: The retailer Dollar General is offering a one-time payment equivalent to four hours’ pay to front-line, hourly staff who receive the vaccine.  

Insurance coverage: The Affordable Care Act says employees can’t be required to pay out-ofpocket for qualifying preventive services like the COVID vaccine. But it’s unclear whether employees can be charged for the doctor visit. 

 Key point: If the vaccine is billed together (not separately) from the office visit, health plans cannot impose any cost-sharing burden on employees. So remind your employees to tell their doctor’s office that the primary purpose of the appointment is to receive the vaccine. 


Source: Employment Law, February 2021 Edition |