Part of the Biden administration’s efforts to curb COVID-19 involve COVID vaccine mandates for businesses with 100 or more employees. Unvaccinated employees must have a negative COVID test weekly before reporting to work. Businesses who fail to comply with the new rule could be fined up to $14,000 per violation.
The exact details of the Biden vaccine plan—such as compliance reporting and enforcement parameters—haven’t been revealed yet, but it did put business leaders on alert. Even for organizations with less than 100 employees, many leaders are debating whether or not COVID vaccines should be mandatory in the workplace. As employers continue to weigh the options, here are a few points to consider.
Why Your Workplace Needs a COVID Vaccine Mandate
If you’re wondering whether you can require vaccinations for your employees, the answer is yes—generally speaking. Undoubtedly, company mandates will be tried in court, but vaccine mandates are supported by Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidance.
The EEOC says you can require employees to get the shot so long as doing so doesn’t violate discrimination laws, including legal requirements for disability and religious accommodations. Also, the decision to mandate must be based on objective facts and related to job duties and workplace needs. The EEOC says such policies are permissible to prevent an individual from posing a direct threat of health and safety to others.
Some of the pros of mandatory vaccinations at work include:
- COVID-19 vaccines are effective at helping protect against severe disease and death from variants of the virus currently circulating, including the Delta variant.
- Studies show that the vaccine is effective at keeping you from getting COVID-19. Getting the vaccine will also help keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do get the virus.
- A vaccinated workforce should help you avoid contact tracing and long quarantine periods.
- Exhibits good corporate citizenship. Vaccines protect the “herd.” Once a critical portion of the population is vaccinated, it’s unlikely that an outbreak will occur, which protects your community.
- It fosters a safe and healthy work environment while protecting vulnerable employees.
- A COVID vaccine requirement can reduce employee anxiety about being in the workplace.
- Promotes stable staffing levels due to fewer illnesses and need for time off.
It’s also important to keep in mind that COVID-19 vaccines are FDA approved, having met their rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality. More than 380 million doses of the vaccine have been given in the U.S. from December 14, 2020, through September 13, 2021.
Potential Pitfalls of a Workplace Vaccine Mandate
Before COVID-19, vaccine mandates for adults in the U.S. were uncommon and usually reserved for workers with specific jobs (like healthcare). So, unless you’re currently required by law to require vaccines for your employees, here are a few reasons why you might not want to.
- One of the biggest deterrents to a vaccine mandate is workers may quit if you require one. If many employees or key players are refusing the vaccine, what effect will that have on your business operations?
- You may believe that an employer should not intervene in personal medical choices (unless required by law).
- Collective bargaining commitments in unionized organizations may prohibit a mandated COVID vaccine.
- There can be ethical issues with mandatory vaccines as they infringe upon constitutionally protected religious freedoms. Vaccines can contain ingredients that some consider immoral or otherwise objectionable.
- Administration of the policy. What will be the procedure for tracking and storing information, process for accommodation requests and increased costs?
- Office logistics: Can you remain socially distant from coworkers throughout the day? Are most employees remote? Does work require masks be always worn when indoors?
- Most adults don’t like being told what to do. What kind of hit would your company culture take if a vaccine mandate increased employee resentment?
A Possible Middle Ground
With health and safety at the forefront of every business leader’s mind, there are possible “meet-in-the-middle” solutions that you could encourage without risk of alienating your workforce, such as:
- Incentivize employees to get the vaccine
- Make the shot readily available (onsite) if possible
- Provide time off to get vaccinated or tested (and recover, if necessary)
- Allow unvaccinated employees to transfer to a less public-facing department or location
If you are mandating vaccines in the workplace, Paycor is here to help. For a sample policy, check out . Our mobile-friendly Immunization Tracker gives you a way to manage and report the immunization status of your workforce. Employees can upload their current COVID information, whether that’s a vaccination card or test results, as often as needed. Only an approved HR administrator will be able to access vaccination data and run reports. To learn more about the Immunization Tracker and how Paycor can help you with vaccine compliance, be sure to request a consultation and visit Paycor.com.
Paycor is not a legal, tax, benefit, accounting or investment advisor. This document is intended for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal information or advice. All communication from Paycor should be confirmed by your company’s legal, tax, benefit, accounting or investment advisor before making any decisions.