The benefits of having immunity against COVID-19 are numerous, as it enables individuals to resume normal activities such as sending their children back to school, taking a break from household responsibilities, reuniting with loved ones, venturing out to restaurants and events, and even planning holidays. The development and administration of vaccines against COVID-19 are crucial for the revival of activities that have been halted for over a year.
Although some individuals choose not to get vaccinated due to concerns about potential side effects, doubts about the vaccine’s effectiveness, the presence of certain health conditions, or distrust in vaccine manufacturers and marketers, employers are faced with the challenge of reconciling these concerns with the recommendations of health professionals and supporters of universal vaccination. Therefore, employers must carefully evaluate how to strike a harmonious balance between these opposing viewpoints.
The appropriate course of action ultimately depends on the specific aspects of your business and operational procedures. However, it is evident that an immunization policy for COVID-19 should be established for your business. Below are some important considerations that can aid in the development of such a policy.
Considerations of Risk and Safety
Depending on the specific nature of the business, employers may choose to make vaccinations a mandatory condition for employees to maintain their employment. For instance, if employees frequently interact with other staff members or customers, there is a compelling argument for implementing a vaccination requirement to minimize the risk of exposure to unvaccinated individuals. This is particularly significant for businesses in the healthcare, travel, and retail industries.
It is crucial to anticipate any possible resistance that may arise when a vaccination requirement is enforced. Employees and customers may opt to sever their ties with the organization in response to this alteration, and it may be necessary to terminate individuals who refuse to comply with the policy. It is conceivable that different parties affiliated with the organization may have divergent responses based on their roles within the organization.
As implementing a compulsory vaccination policy may be arduous, it is crucial to be aware of the repercussions of not doing so. The Society for Human Resource Management stresses that not enforcing such a policy may lead to allegations that the employer has failed to provide a secure and healthy work environment, which is mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
It is highly recommended that employers extend accommodations for individuals who are unable to receive vaccinations due to disabilities or those with deeply-held religious beliefs that prohibit vaccination, even if a rigorous vaccination policy is in effect. In situations where an employee seeks an exemption on the basis of their religion or health, employers could be required to acquire documentation from a qualified medical or religious authority to corroborate their exemption request.
It is crucial to guarantee that your company policies are in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and other applicable regulations. It is not mandatory to grant exemptions for individuals with religious or personal objections to vaccinations. It is recommended to consult with an HR professional for additional guidance. The video below offers additional insights regarding these exceptions.
Voluntary vs. Mandatory Requirements
Instead of imposing mandatory vaccinations for your workforce, you could consider taking the following measures:
- Providing employees with paid leave to receive their vaccinations and recover from any negative side effects is recommended. It may be advantageous to schedule vaccine appointments for staff members at different times to minimize the number of individuals who need to take time off work simultaneously due to vaccine-related side effects.
- Covering the entire cost of the vaccine.
- If you have a significant number of staff members, it could be advantageous to arrange for a mobile vaccination unit to administer vaccinations on-site.
- Encouraging medical experts to educate your staff members on the benefits of the vaccine and allowing ample time for questions.
- To encourage individuals who have not received their vaccinations, distributing pins or stickers to those who have already been vaccinated to identify them may be beneficial.
- Offering incentives for individuals who opt to get vaccinated is recommended, but refraining from using inducements that could be perceived as coercion.
- Providing assistance in addressing any barriers to receiving immunization.
- Removing mask and other related regulations should be approached with caution.
- Establishing a deadline by which you anticipate a specific percentage of your workforce to be immunized and rewarding them if they meet the target.
A combination approach to employee vaccinations could be advantageous. For instance, new hires may be obliged to receive the vaccine, while existing staff members may be motivated to do so with incentives. Alternatively, vaccinations could be compulsory for employees who have contact with the general public.
According to the CDC, it is wise to wait until the vaccination rate has become stable before anticipating favourable outcomes. To instill confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine and reassure employees, it is advisable to seek counsel from trusted local organizations and individuals.
Benefits Extending Beyond Healthcare
By mandating or incentivising employees to receive vaccinations, organisations may achieve more than simply mitigating the virus’s spread.
- Improved productivity
- Reduced absenteeism rates
- Boosted morale
- Flexibility to adjust to evolving scenarios
- Appeal to potential new employees
- Client loyalty and support
Create a COVID-19 Vaccination Policy Tailored to Your Business Requirements.
To guarantee comprehension and approval from workers, it is advisable to produce a documented COVID-19 vaccination strategy and disseminate it to all personnel. A signed agreement may be necessary.
Creating a vaccination policy alone is insufficient; a well-planned implementation approach is necessary for its efficacy. A team comprising representatives of different divisions (e.g., Human Resources and Operations) and personnel levels should spearhead a successful policy rollout. This team should oversee the dissemination of the policy and ensure that all necessary documentation is up-to-date. Furthermore, they should ensure that vaccination documentation is securely transferred and archived.
Attaining herd immunity, which occurs when a considerable portion of the populace has been vaccinated, is the most efficient means of ending an epidemic. As an employer, you can play a role in making this happen.