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‘It gets really tricky’: With vaccine mandates, incentives now legal, here’s what it means for employers

Published 6/4/2021, Digiday.com

Last week the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission confirmed that U.S. employers can legally mandate vaccines for returning workers if they choose to, and vaccine incentives have also been rubber stamped, with a couple of caveats. 

While some businesses, like Amazon and Walmart, have already offered cash incentives to encourage workers to get vaccinated, most haven’t followed suit for fear of entering dodgy legal territory. 

But while the update has cleared up that particular gray area, it doesn’t render return-to-work policies any easier for employers. Unless you’re a legal expert or have a penchant for nosing through dense legal documents, across not just the EEOC but other relevant regulatory bodies, things can start to get easily tangled. Here’s a break down of key things to know. 

 

Brian Dolan, CEO of tech platform WorkReduce, said it’s a very difficult situation for employers, who have to try and balance the health risks for their staff, with respecting people’s personal choices. His own cousin caught the coronavirus from a woman in his office who flouted mask guidelines, and so was off work for three weeks while he recovered. “That’s a terrible outcome for both him and his employer,” he said. “In general, employers are best served by staying out of their employees’ personal lives as much as possible, but this is one area where it gets really tricky.”

If you employ, for example, transplant recipients for whom the vaccine doesn’t seem to work well, the last thing you want to do is create further risk for them by exposing them to COVID-19, said Dolan. “Those might be employees you’d like to have in the office,” he added.……(read full article)

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