By Molly Wood, SPHR, Senior HR Consultant.
Per our survey 44% of respondents intend to mandate vaccinations for their workforce. There are many things to consider before implementing this type of policy including overall employee safety, employee morale, and required accommodations.
The concept of a required vaccination is incredibly politicized, and many people feel very strongly about it on both sides of the argument. On the pro-vaccine side, the idea is that having a fully vaccinated staff is safer for employees and their family members. We are hearing that most of the patients currently hospitalized due to COVID and its variants are unvaccinated, and while some vaccinated people are still getting the variant, their illness is much less severe.
On the anti-vaccine side, while the Pfizer vaccine has recently been approved by the FDA, the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson products have not. Some people are concerned that the vaccinations were rushed through the process and the long-term side effects are unknown. Others are wondering why there is such a strong push if the vaccinated population are still getting sick. And there is the concern over how much control a company should have over their employee’s personal lives. While vaccinations for communicable diseases such as measles and mumps are required in California to attend public school, this has not been an issue in most workplaces.
If your organization is planning to require vaccines, you need to remember that exemptions are still in place for those who do not get vaccinated for health or religious reasons. While you can require medical certification, the religious exemption does not require documentation. You will need to consider how you will accommodate these situations. And since we don’t know how any of the COVID lawsuits will play out in court, we strongly discourage a hard rule on employment termination for the unvaccinated.
We were all hoping that by this time COVID considerations would be something in the rear-view mirror, but unfortunately that does not seem to be the case. SDEA is here to advise our members, whichever way they choose to go.
SDEA members have access to unlimited consultation with our HR Consultants. Don’t hesitate to call! 858-505-0024