In our last webinar, many attendees asked vaccination-related questions. Here are some common issues:
- If you require employees to declare their vaccination status (and there are many valid reasons to do so), treat those who refuse to declare their status as unvaccinated. There is no need to keep pressing for the information.
- Do not automatically place employees who refused to be vaccinated on a leave of absence. I know, “everyone” is doing it. And, plaintiffs’ attorneys couldn’t be more pleased. You must engage in a meaningful discussion with employees who request accommodations. Leave may end up being an appropriate accommodation, but you have to consider alternative accommodations as well, such as masking and testing.
- President Biden’s “100+” vaccination order ultimately may allow private-sector employers to require workers to pay for COVID-19 testing if they refuse to be vaccinated. However, that rule will NOT apply to reasonable accommodations granted for medical or religious reasons. Employers always foot the bill for reasonable accommodation costs. And, California law likely will trump the order, at least with respect to who pays for testing.
- Religious accommodation requests are complex. You cannot use a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Ensure you have a process in place to evaluate these requests, which are required only for medical and religious reasons. In other words, there is no such thing as a “reasonable accommodation” for political, social, or secular personal beliefs. Also, if an individual refuses to participate in the accommodation process and provide appropriate documentation, then deny the request. And, do not question the sincerity of an employee’s stated religious belief, unless you have an “objective” reason to do so. Review the EEOC’s latest guidance on religious objections to COVID-19 vaccination requirements here.