TO VACCINATE OR NOT TO VACCINATE?
Michelle 9 April 2021
Have you thought about having conversations with your employees about getting the vaccination?
Will the goal be vaccination for all employees, including those who continue to work from home or are in hybrid positions? Will you require proof of vaccination? Will the focus be on the “carrot” (benefits, incentives and other forms of persuasion for being vaccinated) or the “stick” (threat of disciplinary action)?
Or will you leave it entirely up to them to decide?
What are other companies doing, and what do current employees think about vaccination? You can consider doing a staff survey and assess what percentage of employees plan on taking the vaccine.Take care that the survey does not raise unrealistic expectations or create liability.
Don’t rush your Decision
If you opt for mandatory vaccination, you can strategically choose to require it for certain groups and not others. For instance, you can request but not legally enforce vaccination of employees whose job functions entail contact with the public and/or presence at the worksite, or otherwise where the employee not receiving a vaccine would pose a significant risk of substantial harm to the health or safety of the individual or others.”
Would you consider Incentives
You could consider offering incentives to boost the number of employees taking the vaccine. This could include making the vaccine available at the worksite for free during paid time or paying for time off and expenses associated with vaccination. Some companies find that proactively offering extra paid time off is a worthwhile investment, compared to unexpected time off due to COVID-related illness and isolation.
Resources, Including Interactive Process
I recommend ensuring you have sufficient in-house or contracted HR support with specialized training to answer questions, engage in the interactive process, and work with leaders to provide reasonable accommodations for needs related to disability or religious belief, such as transfers to positions with lower exposure and lower need for vaccination. Additional competencies needed: handling leaves of absence; benefits administration; including investigation and presumption of exposure at work; and revision of employment policies and processes.
Communication and Education
You should create a plan to educate everyone about the vaccine. This should include the company’s call to action [encouraging employees to take the vaccine, should you decide on this option] and incentives to take the vaccine. I’d also recommend providing information on seeking exemptions related to disability and religious beliefs, engaging in the interactive process, and exploring alternative positions where not receiving vaccination is more acceptable. Additionally, you should consider providing training and learning tools on communication and conflict resolution with co-workers whose COVID-19 infection control actions are having a negative impact on health, safety and the collective good at the company.
Whatever you decide to do….. Communicate fully with all staff. They’ll thank you for it.