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COVID19 Vaccination Inquiries: 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 have been held, with many arguing that if an employer is prohibited under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to inquire about the existence of a disability during the pre-employment phase, then the same should be applied to COVID 19 vaccinations.

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. If possible, why a person decided not to take the vaccination should not be asked until after an offer of employment is made. It might lead to disclosing a current disability status, which can affect the likelihood of an employer offering the individual a job offer.

The industry that a company plays in may also determine if the question of vaccination is necessary or not. If a company is primed to support adequate social distancing, with many staff working remotely, then knowing the vaccination status of a prospective employee might be immaterial.

Guidelines for Employers on Vaccination Request

It is okay for an employer to request that a new employee take the COVID19 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 take 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 offer of employment, employers can then request a vaccination report if they require it.

If an employer is not requesting vaccination reports from its current employees, new employees should be no different. In cases where an employer feels differently, they should check the state or local laws guiding the location in which they operate to ensure that their demands are not prohibited.

Companies should also stay abreast of changing government policies to ensure that 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 COVID19 vaccination-related questions from visitors who are non-workers. If a person is visiting an organization, they should not be mandated to provide vaccination reports if the company’s employees are not under such obligations.