In the wake of President Biden’s recent vaccine mandate announcement, employers across the US are wondering how to maintain HR compliance and keep their workplace safe as they create their return to work plan. While schools, healthcare offices, employers with over 100 employees, employers that are federal contractors, and some other employers will soon have to require either vaccination or weekly COVID testing from their workers, smaller organizations face a confusing choice. Requiring COVID vaccination among their employee policies may increase an employer’s legal exposure and damage its ability to remain Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant. Developing a mandatory COVID vaccination policy could invite more potential lawsuits. Additionally, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has deemed an adverse response to the vaccine a reportable workplace injury (if the employer requires vaccination). MP’s HR services experts suggest that one of the best HR solutions for pandemic workplace challenges is encouraging COVID vaccination. In part one of this two-part series, MP will share three strategies for encouraging COVID vaccination that will still meet HR and compliance standards. Read part two here.
3 Strategies for Encouraging Vaccination that Maintain HR Compliance
1. Start with a survey.
Utilizing an anonymous employee survey will assist employers in getting a pulse on what percentage of their staff is vaccinated or plans to do so. It’s imperative to use an anonymous survey to maintain HR compliance and respect employees’ medical privacy. Using software like MP’s Perform and Engage will allow employers to send out surveys electronically, remind employees to take them, gather data, and aggregate that data for easier use. Once employers know the percentages of vaccinated employees, they can tailor their strategy accordingly.
2. Develop an official communication.
Develop and share a message with all employees encouraging vaccination. The message should indicate if the employer will be offering incentives, support for vaccination, etc. Employers must send this message to everyone, not just the employees known to be unvaccinated or anti-vaccination. Sending it only to some employees could stir complaints of discrimination. Employers should use neutral language that isn’t political or inflammatory. Keep the communication brief and organized. Include links to information about vaccines from trusted, unbiased, reputable sources. It may help to share this communication in a few formats: a meeting, flyers, email, the company intranet, the breakroom bulletin board, etc.
3. Offer support to employees who choose to get vaccinated.
Employers may increase the likelihood of staff vaccination when they offer to subsidize transportation costs for the vaccine. They may also choose to offer time off to get vaccinated or if the employee needs time to recover from an adverse reaction to the vaccine (such as feeling sick the next day). Note that in many states, there are programs that either mandate this time off or pay for it. On a federal level, employers may take part in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) leave program. This program allows them to recoup, via a tax credit, costs to pay for employee PTO when they’re receiving the vaccine or are experiencing adverse reactions to the vaccine (such as feeling sick the next day). Employers may be providing their team time off to get vaccinated with no additional cost.
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