More and more talk is happening about whether an employer can 'force' a worker to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

   According to OHSA (Occupational Safety Health Administration) guidelines from April, a business can require a worker to do so.

HOWEVER, there are several factors they need to be aware of before issuing such a mandate.

First, and foremost, any adverse reactions resulting from a worker getting a COVID vaccine are considered work-related,  because it was a condition of employment.

Straight from the OSHA website:

"If an employer requires its employees to be vaccinated, adverse reactions to the vaccines are considered “work-related” by OSHA. Employers who require COVID-19 vaccines must notify OSHA within 24 hours of an employee’s inpatient hospitalization (or within eight hours of an employee’s death) resulting from an adverse reaction.

That last part is a little startling, but it does require an employer to consider this before making it a mandate. And, these reactions must be officially logged and recorded like any other workplace incident; they must be treated the same as any other workplace health-accident-medical issue.

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Even if it doesn't require hospitalization, it still requires recording and notifications if the worker misses a day or more due to adverse medical reactions.

 Also, according to the National Law Review, there are some other factors that have to be considered. They include (according to the Review):

"There are two federal employment laws that may require employers to make exceptions to a mandatory vaccination policy. Specifically, these are the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects employees with disabilities, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), which, in this context, protects employees with sincerely held religious beliefs."

Also, according to the Review:

"Both the ADA and Title VII require employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees where doing so will not constitute an undue burden. In practice, typically, this requires a somewhat individualized analysis."

So, employers must carefully consider these factors before making any decision to require their workers to get any kind of COVID Vaccine.

The Review also says that mandatory vaccine policies will greatly increase exposure to a potential claim, if an exemption is rejected by said business. These could be filed via the ADA and/or Title VII; for failure to accommodate for the worker.

They also believe such mandates will create increased burdens for HR Departments and businesses, especially having to go on a case-by-case basis with each worker in many instances.

And finally, perhaps the big one, there are growing concerns that if a worker becomes sick, injured or even dies, there will be a claim filed against the business because they required the worker to get the vaccine.  The law and OSHA seem to clearly indicate a business can set a mandatory policy, but they are responsible for any and all outcomes from it. 

 

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