Medical Economics: Consult HR experts, legal advisors before mandating a vaccine for high-risk employees
Should you make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for your high-risk healthcare workers? G&A Partners Client Success Manager Jacqueline Trujillo says you should carefully weigh your options first. In a June 17, 2021, article she wrote for Medical Economics magazine, Trujillo shares important considerations for employers debating a mandate—even those who would prefer to offer vaccine incentives instead.
While the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has said that employers may mandate the vaccine, to remain compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and other laws, some circumstances may require employers to provide reasonable accommodations for those employees who are unable to get the vaccine for health or religious reasons.
So, while it is possible for employers to mandate the vaccine, Trujillo cautions that it might not be in the best interest of the organization. She advises that employers speak with their legal counsel and consult with their HR experts before making such a decision.
“There are a number of reasons why employees may be hesitant or refuse to get vaccinated,” she says. “They may be immunocompromised, pregnant, or have other pre-existing health conditions that cause their doctors to recommend they avoid the vaccine. Some may be wary of getting a vaccine that isn’t fully FDA-approved. Others may have strong religious reasons for not getting vaccinated.”
In the article, Trujillo shares a story about a client who had a pregnant registered nurse (RN) employee who refused to risk her life and pregnancy by getting the vaccine or going to work in the typical manner, which required her to enter the private homes of critically ill or dying patients. Together, Trujillo and her client were able to come up with some creative accommodations for the employee that satisfied all parties.
Offering vaccine incentives could also put employers on legally boggy ground, Trujillo says.
“It’s important to consider whether such incentives can be provided in a consistent and fair manner,” she says. “The potential for legal liability should be carefully considered by employers when creating policies and programs.”
Read Trujillo’s full article, “Mandating COVID-19 vaccines for high-risk employees might not be as safe as it sounds,” on the Medical Economics website.