The Biden administration is encouraging employers to incentivize their workers to get vaccinated as the delta variant of Covid-19 continues to spread in areas with low vaccination rates.
One of these suggestions is offering workers paid time off so they are not financially penalized for getting the vaccine.
Although this sense of urgency has been part of the administration’s modus operandi since President Biden assumed office, it falls short of pushing companies to mandate vaccines for employees returning to the office.
According to a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission FAQ, antidiscrimination laws do not actually prevent employers from requiring on-site employees to get the vaccine. However, they do still have to abide by workers who cite religious or medical reasons for not getting the vaccine.
“There’s quite a tension between legally being allowed to require a vaccine and the potential culture hit on employee morale in requiring it,” said Sheeva Ghassemi-Vanni, a partner in the employment practices and litigation groups at law firm Fenwick & West. “Some, but certainly not all, employees feel there is a certain ‘big brother’ aspect to requiring a vaccination in the workplace.”
Although research shows that the majority of workers support a vaccine mandate in the office, only a few employers are actually requiring it.
Ghassemi-Vanni added she has been advising clients to survey their own employees to understand what they want in order to have better insight into whether mandating the shot could be feasible.