How will companies manage a staff of vaccinated and unvaccinated workers?
As employers reopen offices, some are asking returning employees for proof they have received their COVID-19 vaccines.
Companies, as a Wall Street Journal article points out, have been urging employees to get vaccinated against the virus in order to prevent the spread of the disease within their businesses and beyond, often offering paid time off and other incentives.
Some private employers have gone so far as to require vaccinations for employees to return to their jobs. The Journal reports that some companies have begun asking workers to voluntarily register their vaccination status, while others are requiring employees to disclose that information. Many are requiring unvaccinated workers to wear masks inside of buildings even as the vaccinated conduct business without the same precautions.
Non-vaccinated workers may not like the feeling of being pushed to get shots, but recent Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidance says employers have the legal right to require employees to be vaccinated against the virus. Exceptions to this rule include workers with certain medical conditions or religious beliefs. Those seeking to opt-out of being vaccinated may be able to get an exception to workplace rules by asking “to use masks, social distancing, schedule changes, or reassignment to stay safe at work,” according to the EEOC.
The issue of what to do with returning workers takes place at a time when some states are approaching or passing the 70 percent vaccination goal set by the Biden administration for adults, moving the U.S. towards a level that would create herd immunity. Many localities and states, however, have failed to even reach 50 percent largely due to the related politics, which follow previous splits over the seriousness of the virus itself and public health measures to prevent its spread.
Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey held a briefing yesterday where he announced 260 new cases in the state despite a transmission rate below one percent. New Jersey is near the top of the list among states with vaccinated citizens.
The new cases, he said, come “almost entirely if not exclusively from unvaccinated individuals.”
The reality, according to Gov. Murphy, is the state is in a pandemic again, but this time it is confined to the unvaccinated.
- Companies Push Employees to Prove They Are Vaccinated for Covid-19 – The Wall Street Journal
- Federal Laws Protect You Against Employment Discrimination During the COVID-19 Pandemic – Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
- What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws – Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
- TRANSCRIPT: June 14th, 2021 Coronavirus Briefing Media – State of New Jersey
- Are retailers facing a no-win decision in mandating vaccines for workers? – RetailWire
- Should retailers ask workers to return to their offices? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How would you advise retailers to manage vaccinated and unvaccinated workers in corporate offices, warehouses and stores? Do you see vaccination status among employees having an effect (positively or negatively) on a given store or company’s performance?