Encouraging Voluntary Vaccination Programs Among Employees

Employers are faced with decisions around how to manage COVID-19 vaccines in the workplace. As with most employment law issues, these decisions are complex, and Employers Council provides guidance in our FYI:  COVID-19 Vaccines in the Workplace. Vaccination programs are only one element of a COVID-19 prevention program. The best choice for your organization depends on many factors, such as the feasibility of social distancing in the workplace, the degree to which employees interact with the public in person, the proportion of employees or customers at increased risk for severe illness, and priority for continuity of operations. Employers should also consider the level of COVID-19 disease transmission in their communities.

If your organization has decided on a voluntary vaccination policy that encourages instead of mandates employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccination, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers helpful resources for employers.

The Essential Workers COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit is designed to help employers increase vaccination rates among essential workers, but the suggestions also apply to other types of employees.

The toolkit provides useful tools for small- and medium-size employers who don’t have the resources to host an onsite vaccination clinic and are relying on community resources such as pharmacies, hospitals, and healthcare provider offices. These resources can help your organization share clear and accurate information to educate employees about COVID-19 vaccines, raise awareness about the benefits of vaccination, and address common questions and concerns. Materials for communicating with employees include digital and print templates for letters to employees, posters, fact sheets, slide decks, and stickers in both English and Spanish.

In addition to considerations mentioned in our FYI:  COVID-19 Vaccines in the Workplace, consider these impacts to your workforce:

  • Paid Leave: Employees may be eligible for paid leave to get vaccinated or for illnesses related to vaccination reactions. From April 1- September 30, 2021, employers voluntarily offering pay under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) can provide paid leave for both vaccinations and reactions. State and local laws may require employers to provide paid leave. For example, Public Health Emergency leave is available to employees covered by Colorado’s Healthy Families and Workplaces Act. In Arizona, pay is provided under the Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act. Consult with Employers Council for coverage in other states.
  • Scheduling: Organizations can request employees to make a reasonable effort to schedule time off to not unduly disrupt the operations. However, depending on local sick leave requirements, organizations cannot restrict the scheduling or amount of time employees use for sick time. The CDC currently expects that most employees who experience symptoms will not need to miss work. However, it still encourages employers to provide flexible leave policies for those who may have post-vaccination symptoms.

Because this toolkit is provided through the federal government, check with your state and county health department for the most recent information on eligibility and availability for your area.