Can companies still require their employees to be vaccinated?

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Last week, the United States Supreme Court suspended President Biden’s vaccine and testing mandate for employers. Can workplaces still require vaccines anyway? originally appeared on Quora: the place to acquire and share knowledge, allowing people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Responnse by Kara Govro, Chief HR Legal Expert, on Quora:

Most workplaces can, but some states have passed laws that limit the effectiveness of these warrants by requiring broad exemptions, and Montana bans warrants altogether. If you are in one of these states with limitations (currently Kansas, Utah, Florida, North Dakota, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Texas, and Virginia Western), you’ll want to make sure you’re following the letter of the law when writing your terms of reference and outlining the exemption process.

Even in limitless states, most employers will need to allow exemptions from vaccination mandates for employees who have a disability or a sincere religious belief that prevents them from being vaccinated. Exemption requirements stem from federal laws that apply to employers with 15 or more employees, but many states have similar protections that apply to fewer employees. In most cases, employees who find themselves exempt from an employer’s vaccination mandate should be instructed to take other safety measures, such as wearing a more effective mask, maintaining social distancing or work from home. Employers who want to implement a vaccination mandate should think ahead about the processes they will put in place for exemptions.

Mandatory vaccinations can also pose a morale risk. People generally don’t like being told what to do, and if you have a significant number of employees who oppose vaccination, you may be setting yourself up for mutiny or high turnover. On the other hand, not requiring vaccinations can cause significant anxiety among more cautious employees, especially if they have to work in close proximity with colleagues whose vaccination status is unknown. And that concern is likely to be exacerbated if you don’t require masks or other workplace safety measures. Ultimately, every employer will have to make a decision that balances their desire for safety against the impact on their workforce.

That question originally appeared on Quora – the place to acquire and share knowledge, allowing people to learn from others and better understand the world.


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