The news that two vaccines against COVID-19 were approved for emergency use in the U.S. at the end of 2020 was welcomed by many. Although the initial rollout of the vaccines was slow, production and availability of each, as well as potential new vaccines, is expected to increase by spring of this year. The vaccines are a key component, along with social distancing measures and other precautions, of bringing the pandemic to an end.
As a business owner, you might have several questions about the vaccines, including when your employers can receive them and if you should make the vaccines a requirement of continued employment. Even if you don’t decide to require it, incentivizing vaccination can help your business get back to normal as quickly as possible.
Should You Require Vaccination?
One of the most significant questions employers are facing about vaccines is whether they should require their employees to get the shots. As a general rule, employers can require their team members to get vaccines, as long as the requirement doesn’t lead to the misuse of confidential medical information or violate employee’s rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The requirement also can’t violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which requires an employer to provide accommodations for an employee’s religious practices or beliefs.
Because making vaccination a requirement of continued employment can open up a legal minefield, many employers are instead deciding to strongly encourage vaccination, rather than require it. If your company does decide to require the vaccine, you should create a written policy that outlines when you expect employees to be vaccinated (taking into account the availability of the vaccine in your area) as well as what people can do if they qualify for an exemption under Title VII, the ADA, or another workplace law.
How to Encourage Employees to Get Vaccinated
If you’d prefer not to require the vaccine but still want as many employees as possible to get it, your best option is to give them an incentive to do so. It’s important to stress that the incentives and programs are completely voluntary so that no employees feel singled out or fearful that they will have to reveal private medical information. One incentive to offer is paid time off to get the vaccine (which requires two shots, spaced at least 21 or 28 days apart). The paid time off should be in addition to your employees’ usual sick days or vacation time. Additionally, you might offer extra time off for people who develop an immune response to the vaccine.
Another option is to offer to reduce health insurance premiums or deductibles for employees who decide to get vaccinated, as the vaccine decreases the likelihood of severe illness, which would make the costs of an employer-sponsored health plan higher.
Some employees might be happy to receive a cash incentive for getting vaccinated, such as a bonus or even a gift card to a store or local restaurant. Depending on the transportation needs of your employees and the locations of vaccine sites, you might consider giving them ride credits or car rental credits to make it easier to get to a vaccine clinic.
Depending on the size of your company and the availability of vaccines, you might consider setting up a clinic on-site to facilitate the process.
Getting Back to Business After Employee Vaccinations
Although the vaccine is a crucial step toward the end of the pandemic, it’s important to remember that the results won’t be instantaneous. Depending on how long it takes the vaccine to become widely available, it can be several months before your company is able to go back to working on-site or without social distancing measures in place. Still, offering your employees incentives to get the vaccine as soon as they are eligible, and it’s available to them can be the first step in getting your company back on the path toward growth.
The COVID-19 pandemic has it even more challenging for businesses to navigate their finances and plan for growth. The virtual CFOs at New Direction Capital can help you make a plan for the future and help you decide what to do to lead your company to success. Contact us today to hire your virtual CFO.