We were recently asked about what policies employers can put in place regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. Stephanie Ramsey, Director of Business Analysis provides some insights on this topic.
Question: Can we require employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
Stephanie Ramsey: There are many people who are divided on whether to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The first question that employers must address is, “Can we require employees to get vaccinated?” The answer to this question varies based on the business you are in generally but is quite simple for funeral businesses. Yes, you can require that employees get vaccinated.
The reality is that employers in the funeral industry have a strong justification for this requirement. Their employees are at high risk due to the nature of their jobs. What is meant by the term “high risk?” Funeral employees are at greater than average risk of exposure and thus place others at risk of exposure because they meet with people from all walks of life. Many of whom, themselves, work in positions that are in greater than normal risk of exposure to COVID-19 such as health care professionals, or other essential businesses.
There may be some exceptions to this policy as determined by ADA requirements for disabilities that may prohibit the use of the vaccine or under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for religious beliefs. However, employees either comply or they are failing to meet their job requirement and are self-terminating. I would recommend that you confer with legal counsel before terminating employees.
Question: Can we ask an employee if he or she has received the COVID-19 vaccine?
Stephanie Ramsey: Because employers have the ability to mandate employees receive the COVID-19 vaccine as discussed above, they therefore have the ability to require proof that the employee has received the mandated vaccination. This should be a simple process as in most circumstances, a vaccination card is provided, or the health care professional can provide a receipt of the vaccine.
An additional consideration for employers is that they are required to provide a safe environment for all employees. If they are not requiring employees to get vaccinated and then following up with evidence of such and other employees become ill via an unvaccinated employee, is the employer liable? Would this fall under Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)? While litigation on this type of issue is still in its infancy, it is an area that could be of concern for funeral business owners.
DISCLAIMER: For further information, we advise funeral business owners to seek the counsel of their local attorneys on this topic.
As we continue to navigate through these times of uncertainty and adapt, we here are at The Foresight Companies want to be your source for all topics related to your business operations.