Can employers make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory? Here are 3 things to know
Can employers make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory? Yes, with some exceptions.
1. Safety Measures
Experts say employers can require employees to take safety measures, including vaccination. That doesn’t necessarily mean you would get fired if you refuse, but you might need to sign a waiver or agree to work under specific conditions to limit any risk you might pose to yourself or others.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has allowed companies to mandate the flu and other vaccines, and has also indicated they can require COVID-19 vaccines.
Southern California-based employment attorney Dan Klingenberger says that an employer may have the right to require the vaccination if it could be shown that failing to get it would create an undue hardship on the employer or pose a direct threat to anyone working around that person. Additionally, this could be the basis to deny a request for accommodation.
There are exceptions. For example, people can request exemptions for medical or religious reasons.
And even though employers can require vaccinations, there are reasons they might not want to. Tracking compliance with mandatory vaccination would be an administrative burden, said Michelle S. Strowhiro, an employment adviser and lawyer at McDermott Will & Emery. Employers would also have to manage exemption requests — not to mention legal claims that might arise.
As a result, many employers will likely strongly encourage vaccination without requiring it, Strowhiro said.
An Associated Press report contributed to this guide.