With COVID-19 cases on the rise precisely as employers are seeking to return employees to the workplace, many companies are assessing what steps to take in response. While many companies already have announced mandatory vaccination policies, many more are actively evaluating whether to take this step, to re-impose mask wearing and social distancing measures, or other potential options. Our Labor and Employment Group is actively benchmarking with businesses across industry lines and working closely with those who are weighing this important decision.
Legally, the landscape is relatively simple -- you can have a mandatory vaccine (or even a mandatory masking) policy. While such a policy is permissible, employers must be mindful of the obligation to accommodate those employees who ask for an exemption based on medical or religious reasons. With the polarization concerning masks and mandatory vaccines, establishing a process to receive those accommodation requests, evaluate them and communicate decisions is critical.
Aside from the legality of mandating a vaccine or other safety measure, equally important are the employee relations implications of such a policy. The way an employer rolls out this policy and addresses employee questions is vital to the success of the policy. So, too, is how the employer handles the fallout from potential resignations and the treatment of those who object, but ultimately adhere to the policy.
Whether you are considering a policy for your business, or whether a business partner you work with is requiring it of your employees, Spilman lawyers
are here to help you navigate the legal and employee relation issues.