Returning to Work and Vaccine Mandates in the Wake of Covid-19

December 29, 2021

The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic forced businesses to make an abrupt transition to remote work. Now that vaccines are widely available, those same businesses are looking to transition their employees back into the office. But for most employers, that return to work after Covid is turning out to be an even slower and more complicated process. And it won’t get any easier as lawmakers, regulators, employers, and workers go to battle over vaccine requirements.

Bloomberg Law can help you navigate legal implications and better understand what you need to do to ensure a safe return to work for your employees, and a safe and healthy environment for them once they get there.

Should employers implement a vaccine mandate for employees returning to work after Covid-19?

Before implementing a Covid-19 workplace policy, employers should review the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and developments from their state and local government.

Consider mandating or encouraging vaccines, depending on the needs of your workforce. If collecting information about employees’ vaccine status, consider how records will be maintained. Documentation or other confirmation of vaccination provided by employees is considered medical information that must be kept confidential and separately from employee personnel files in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Prepare for employee inquiries about their coworker’s vaccination status and train managers to respond to such inquiries.

If mandating vaccination:

  • Implement and distribute procedures to allow employees to request reasonable accommodations
  • Plan and prepare for workers’ safety concerns and political objections
  • Consider how to monitor compliance and address noncompliance

Guide to Employer Vaccine Policy Considerations

Read our guide for employers on the many factors to consider before implementing a vaccine policy or mandate.

How will your business implement its vaccine policy? What does OSHA’s emergency standard mean for that policy?

The increasing complexity in the interaction between public health policies and employment law means that finding the right path won’t be easy. Missteps can lead to expensive lawsuits, or worse, sick workers.

This vaccine mandate webinar is designed to help employers answer questions about creating and implementing a worker vaccine program. Our panel of experts will address mandatory vaccine policies, discuss the benefits and legal risks associated with incentives, and offer practical tips to help employers stay in compliance with existing employment laws when implementing a vaccine program.

In this webinar, you will:

  • Learn best practices for mandatory vaccine policies
  • Prepare for OSHA’s emergency temporary standard
  • Understand common pitfalls of vaccine programs and develop strategies to avoid them
  • Adapt existing policies to address the availability of vaccine booster shots
  • Understand best practices for receiving and responding to worker objections and accommodation requests

Covid worker

Vaccine Mandates – Prepare Your Workforce and Your Clients

This on-demand webinar is designed to answer all your questions about the ins and outs of creating and implementing a successful vaccine policy in your organization.

Should employers implement a health screening policy for employees returning to work after Covid-19?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has acknowledged that the Covid-19 pandemic presents a direct threat to employees and generally allows employers to conduct Covid-19 testing, temperature checks, and health screenings without violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Employers that choose to implement Covid-19 screenings should be aware that the EEOC’s guidance does not set aside other employment laws. Employers must ensure that they remain in compliance with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and all applicable federal, state, and local laws.

Employers providing on-site Covid-19 viral testing must also consider consequences if employees refuse to undergo testing, and address confidentiality, wage and hour, and safety issues associated with Covid-19 screening.

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Are there reasonable accommodations for unvaccinated employees returning to work?

Under the ADA, reasonable accommodations for unvaccinated employees for Covid-19 because of disability may include: wearing face masks; working at a social distance from coworkers or non-employees; or working modified shifts.

Even if no reasonable accommodation exists that permits an unvaccinated employee to be physically present without posing a direct threat, employers must consider telework as an accommodation and, lastly, if reassignment to another position is possible.

Covid worker

Covid-19 and the Americans with Disabilities Act

Learn more about how the ADA applies to Covid-19 issues as your business opens and employees return to your workplace.

Essential analysis, comprehensive coverage, and practice tools

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Sample Policy – Employer Vaccine Mandate

A ready-to-use sample policy for an employer requiring that employees be vaccinated against Covid-19.

Labor and Employment State Law Chart Builders

Quickly generate state-by-state comparisons of statutes and regulations in an easy-to-read format.

Fast Answers on Covid-19 Vaccinations & EEO Laws

Get answers to all your questions about the laws governing Covid-19 vaccination policies.

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Americans with Disabilities Act

2022 Outlook on Labor & Employment

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