The Majority of Employers Will Encourage, Not Mandate, the COVID-19 Vaccine

COVID- 19 vaccines continue to be administered to individuals across the country, and employers are deciding if they will mandate employees get the vaccination. Some surveys tell us that approximately 60% of workers will get the vaccine leaving one to speculate that 40% of workers will be vulnerable to the virus. That leaves employers in a challenging spot as they continue to try to maintain a safe workplace. On the flip side, they have a lot of concerns about requiring the vaccination. 


A recent Littler survey found that most employers are unlikely to mandate the COVID-19 vaccination. Nearly half of the survey respondents (48% ) have already decided against requiring immunizations in their workplaces. The majority of employers are looking at ways to encourage vaccination and maintain their workplace safety protocols. 


According to the Littler survey, below are the top employer concerns around requiring a vaccine: 

· 79% cited hesitance from employees who are not in a protected category but refuse or oppose vaccination generally.

· 67% are worried about a mandate’s impact on the employee morale and organizational culture. 

· 64% are concerned about legal liability should an employee experience an adverse reaction.

· 47% are concerned about administrative difficulties with implementing mandates.


Employees who understand how the vaccine works and its effectiveness will be more likely to get the vaccination. As an employer, you can gather and share vaccine information with employees from the CDC, local health authority, or local healthcare organizations. That way, once your employees are eligible to receive the vaccine, they will hopefully feel more prepared.


Be careful not to inadvertently penalize employees who end up experiencing the vaccine’s potential side effects, especially if you are encouraging it. Be mindful not to dock pay, deplete their PTO bank, or count side-effect-related absences as part of your disciplinary process. Some state and local paid sick leave laws may require providing paid time off or protected unpaid leave to employees as they recover from vaccine side effects. And the newly signed  American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) has provisions for employees taking time for vaccinations. In addition, employees will be less inclined to get vaccinated if they believe they may have to miss work time due to side effects, not be paid, or have to use their PTO for that time. You may consider providing an additional chunk of PTO to employees who voluntarily choose to get vaccinated.


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