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How to Ask Employees About Vaccination Status

Although OSHA’s most recent emergency temporary standard was blocked by the Supreme Court, there may be other local ordinances that require employers to ask employees about vaccination status. So how should an employer ask an employee about vaccination status? Employers need to be careful when approaching this topic as they don’t want to ask any disability-related questions- which ultimately the American Disabilities Act (ADA) does not allow.

Keep it specific

Using a questionnaire survey with specific answers for employees to choose from can help eliminate the risk of coming across as asking the wrong question. For example, an employer may ask employees to choose from the following:
(maybe show this list with checkboxes – not bullets?)

  • Fully vaccinated & can provide confirmation
  • Partially vaccinate & can provide confirmation once fully vaccinated
  • No current vaccination but can provide proof that they intend to
  • Not vaccinated nor plan to do so due to a medical or religious reason
  • No plans to get the vaccine and do not have a religious or medical reason

Similarly, it needs to be clear to employees that they should not include any other medical information. It is important to avoid structuring any questionnaire in a way that may persuade employees to share more than necessary.

Organize the process

It is up to the employer’s discretion if they want to end up requiring proof of vaccination. There are many factors to consider 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 require proof needs to communicate any relevant procedures and requirements that may apply. This includes:

  • 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 needs to be clear to employees what kind of proof is necessary and how to and where to submit.
  • 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.

Keep HR involved as much as possible

There are vital considerations that organizations must take to avoid clashing with any labor/civil rights laws in doing so. For this reason, it is we recommend you to speak with a trusted HR partner/professional to make an informed decision.

Learn more about how Payroll Systems can seamlessly integrate benefits & HR 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.