Companies have changed their back-to-workplace strategies to ensure employee wellness and safety. However, with time, a few questions are arising which do not seem to cease the uncertainty.
Many pulse surveys were conducted seeking feedback about the same from wellness professionals and employer groups. A particular employer pulse survey conducted by a renowned wellness organization questioned employers groups – “After the COVID-19 vaccine is available widely to the public, will their organization require employees to get the vaccination before returning to the workplace, without any qualified exemption.”
While 56% of employers said they would not make it mandatory, 34% said they were not sure. On the other hand, 10% of employers said their organization would want their employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine before they returned to the workplace.
These results were as expected, owing to the current working scenario and other related reasons. Many companies have now transitioned to remote working, and many employers are planning on continuing it for a long time. Such options have made it easier and less imposing about the vaccination for the employees. Also, with the government regulations and guidance not issued yet, employers are still not sure of what must be done about employee vaccinations, which explains the reply of more than a third of the respondents.
What Employee’s Think About COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement?
Even before the news of the EEOC guidance and the approval of the Pfizer vaccines were out, employees agreed to the need to get vaccinated. A survey conducted by SurveyMonkey and CNBC with more than 9000 employees across the US had almost 57% of respondents supporting the need to get vaccinated before returning to the workplace. These results were highly influenced by their political affiliation. 55% of the independents and 75% of the Democrats agreed to the idea of vaccinating employees before getting back to work in-person, only 41% of Republicans were in favor of it. With such differences in employee perspective, employers could conduct internal pulse surveys or polls seeking employee feedback and opinion about the COVID-19 vaccination requirement.
In another survey conducted by a wellness organization on more than 500 US employees, almost 43% of the participants agreed that their employer must allow a mandatory vaccination to the entire workforce before they return to the workplace, without any qualified exemption. However, 26% of respondents were not sure about the vaccination requirement.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) had issued legal guidance on what the employers must be aware of the COVID-19, the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the other related regulations. According to the agency guidelines, employers can require their employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine before returning to the workplace.
The current regulations do not allow employers to require mandatory medical examinations, including health screenings, and tests to check blood pressure, blood tests, and breath analyses as these tests give out personal information about employee mental health and other details. According to the recent EEOC guidance, the vaccine administration is only to protect against COVID-19, and it does not give any insight into the existing employee health conditions. Therefore, it cannot be considered a medical examination, and so, it can be required by the employer before returning to the workplace.
With the situation changing rapidly and the advancements in the healthcare sector, 2021 seems to be a year that could potentially change the workplace culture and working policies. Only further instructions from the legal experts and studies to know employee-employer opinions on the COVID-19 vaccination requirement can help in understanding the situation better. Until then, it is a waiting game while practicing employee safety guidelines at the workplace.