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Can I require my employees to be vaccinated in California?

On Behalf of | Sep 21, 2021 | Employer Defense

The recent pandemic has brought up a  lot of new questions for employers. For over a year, you have been presented with many questions regarding what you can require of employees in the interest of public health.

As questions of testing and sick time turned into mandates on masks and cleaning protocols, you and your employees started to wonder about rules and precedents in the workplace. Now that higher numbers of the population are returning to work, it is time to consider whether employers can require vaccination.

Here’s what you should know as you develop your company’s policy for employee vaccinations.

Most likely

Initially, as vaccines came available, certain portions of the population jumped at the chance for the layer of protection; others were more hesitant. In the meantime, you want to keep your employees and your customers safe by making vaccination a requirement for employment.

Currently, in California, there are mandates requiring vaccination (or routine negative tests) for healthcare workers, state employees and others who have “high risk” professions. Also, President Biden recently issued a statement regarding vaccination requirements for businesses with over 100 employees.

Support for the task

Telling employees that they must get vaccinated is only one part of the equation. Your employees will also require your help following through with the rule. Your staff may need help coordinating vaccination and may require support such as:

  • Paid leave to get vaccinated
  • Reimbursement for travel to and from the appointment
  • Additional sick leave for post-vaccination recovery

Currently, OSHA is working on guidance for employers to encourage vaccination. As you consider vaccination requirements for your employees, you should determine how you will handle exemptions ahead of time. In addition to employees who may have health exemptions, some may also have other exemptions, including exemption based on religious beliefs.

Guidance by employment counsel will prove invaluable to you as you implement new vaccination and testing requirements, policies and procedures to attempt to provide a safe working environment for your employees.