COVID-19 Vaccination: What Employers Need to Know

Many questions have been asked about how appropriate it is for an employer to ask applicants for COVID-19 vaccination proof.

Debates center around applying the same pre-employment Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) restrictions to COVID-19 vaccinations. Many argue that employers should not inquire about vaccine status during pre-employment.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has stated that vaccination inquiries are not covered under the ADA as they are not directly disability inquiries. Even though it is not prohibited, it is advised that employers tread with caution when making such inquiries. Employers should not ask why an individual declined the vaccination until after an employment offer is made. It might lead to disclosing a current disability status. This can affect the likelihood of an employer offering the individual a job.

The industry a company plays in may also determine whether the vaccination question is necessary. Knowing the vaccination status of a prospective employee might not matter if the company is set up to support proper social distancing. This can be done by having employees work remotely.

Guidelines for Employers on COVID-19 Vaccination Request

It is okay for an employer to request that a new employee take the COVID-19 vaccination on the first day of resumption if they do not discriminate against those with disabilities or act based on religious or ethnic bias.

It is also vital for employers to be open about their vaccination requirements from the beginning of the recruitment process. Employers can even decide to make this note on the job description before people start to apply. Companies should add that they are open to employing people with various disabilities.

Employers should consider not making vaccination a topic during the interview process. This will pay attention to the focus of the interview, which are qualifications, ability to do the job, and relevant experience. Therefore, interviewees need not worry about bringing proof of their vaccination status to the interview. Upon an offer of employment, employers can then request a vaccination report if they require it.

New employees should be no different if an employer is not requesting vaccination reports from its current employees. Employers with different perspectives should verify state or local laws in their operating location. This ensures their demands are not prohibited.

Companies should also stay abreast of changing government policies to ensure they align their workplace rules appropriately and do not make demands or act outside the law’s guidelines. Also, care should be taken when asking COVID-19 vaccination-related questions from visitors who are non-workers. A person visiting an organization should not be mandated to provide vaccination reports if the company’s employees are not under such obligations.

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