With the emergency release of the coronavirus vaccine, this is the question weighing on the minds of business leaders everywhere, from small business owners to corporate CEOs. There is not a one-size-fits-all answer for everyone. When preparing to make the decision, there are several factors that should be considered: Industry & Close Contact

Healthcare workers who provide direct care are the most obvious choice for vaccine mandates. Other businesses in industries where employees have consistent close contact with each other or the public—such as food, transportation, or schools where virtual learning is more difficult—can make a strong argument for mandating the vaccine.

For businesses in other industries, particularly offices where remote work is possible or social distancing is a lot easier, it will be more difficult to make an argument for a mandated vaccine. In this case, recommending or making the vaccine optional would be easier to justify.

The bottom line: If you decide to require the vaccine, you must be able to reasonably justify your decision, possibly in court.
Employees’ Opinions

While this should not be the ultimate determining factor, it is important to keep this in mind. If you have strong reason to believe the majority of your employees will object to the vaccine, you may need to be a lot more cautious about how you unroll your plan to require or recommend it.

On the other hand, if your employees are already open to the vaccine or have been asking for it, you will have an easier time encouraging cooperation.

Benefits & Risks

In this decision, the primary factor that weighs in the balance is health: the health of your employees, the health of your customers or clients, and the health of the community where you do business. If your employees are at a high risk of contracting and spreading the coronavirus, that should be weighed heavily in your decision. If not, other factors may be more important to consider.

In any case, legal considerations will also have to be weighed as you determine the best course of action.

Feeling uncertain? Get in touch with one of our experienced business attorneys today.

Requiring the vaccine or not requiring the vaccine both have legal implications for businesses. Here are some issues to keep in mind.

Talk to one of our business attorneys for advice on how to plan for and mitigate risk. Reasonable Accommodations

If the employee refuses to be vaccinated due to a disability or sincerely held religious belief, they cannot be forced to receive the vaccine. However, if they truly pose an imminent threat to the health of those around them in their current position, you may need to make an accommodation. Can the employee work remotely? Can the employee step away from the job for a leave of absence? Can the employee be temporarily reassigned to a different position that would minimize direct contact with others?

Making these kinds of accommodations will help protect you from legal backlash while providing a safe and comfortable work environment for all of your employees, including the ones not receiving the vaccine.

Termination

If you find that no reasonable accommodations can be made and the employee is directly at risk and putting others at risk for contracting the virus, you may feel that termination is your only option. Talk to an attorney before making the final decision to ensure you fully understand state and local laws on this matter. Depending on how things are handled, you could quickly be facing a wrongful termination claim. Getting legal advice beforehand can help you avoid a lawsuit.

Deciding whether or not to require the COVID-19 vaccine is a complex decision, and employees’ mixed feelings and potential fear or uncertainty about the vaccine can add to the confusion. When navigating such a situation, the best thing to do is to communicate clearly and frequently with your employees.

In all of your communications with your employees about the vaccine, it’s helpful to emphasize the primary goal of providing a safe, healthy work environment for everyone.

Need some advice? This decision is a tough one, but it’s one you don’t have to make alone. Our business attorneys are here for you, 24/7. Call us at (859) 781-9100 to set up an appointment. We will help you weigh all your options and make the decision that is best for you and your business.

Jack Gatlin – Business Law Attorney

Our team can help you from the very first days you are forming your business through representation in legal matters during operation. We are comprehensive in our business legal support.

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