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Can Employer’s Require Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination?

As more and more Americans get their COVID vaccinations, many workplaces are working on their re-opening plans. Some may continue with a remote workforce while others may opt to bring employees back on-site. As these shifts begin to happen, many are wondering if they can require their employers to provide proof of vaccination.

Currently, it is legal to ask employees that they are vaccinated. Employers in high-risk industries have required workers to get annual flu vaccinations for decades before this pandemic and the COVID-19 vaccine would likely be treated the same.

However, in asking to do so there are certain labor and civil rights laws that certain organizations must comply with when it comes to vaccinations. Employees may be exempt from otherwise mandatory vaccines through the American Disabilities Act (ADA) or the Civil Rights Act Legislation.

According to the EEOC guidelines regarding this vaccine, asking for proof that an employee has received the vaccine isn’t likely to elicit disability-related information therefore employers are allowed to ask for proof.

Employers should take caution when asking employees why they did not get the vaccine as this question could elicit medical or disability-related information. Employers should advise employees to leave out any other medical information when providing documentation of their vaccination.

It is up to the employer’s discretion if they want to end up requiring proof of vaccination and many factors should be taken into consideration when making this decision such as workforce size, the level of risk the industry they are in is, and if the workers often interact with each other or the public.

Any employer that does end up deciding to require proof of vaccination needs to communicate any relevant procedures and requirements that may apply. This include but may not be limited to:

  • Timing– The employer should set a timeline of when they expect proof to be provided with an explanation of hard cut-off dates and specific exceptions to these dates.
  • Specifics of proof– It should be made clear to employees what kind of proof is necessary and how they are expected to submit it and to whom.
  • Alternatives– Any alternative options such as remote work or wearing PPE on-site should be detailed for employees to know.
  • Storing the information– Before sending any notice out to employees a process should be in place for tracking who has provided proof and where and how it will be stored for safekeeping.

If an organization is considering going this route, there are vital considerations that they must take to avoid clashing with any labor and civil rights laws in doing so. For this reason, it is highly recommended that employers speak with a trusted HR partner or professional to make a decision that is tailored to them.

Learn more about how Payroll Systems can seamlessly integrate benefits into its payroll service to help you empower your workforce.

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This article provides general information and shouldn’t be construed as legal or HR advice. Since employment laws may change over time and can vary by location and industry, please consult a lawyer or HR expert for advice specific to your business. You can also contact Payroll Systems to inquire about our HR support services.