Employers may require employees to be fully vaccinated as a condition of entering the workplace, new guidance from the federal Equal Employment and Opportunities Commission (EEOC) confirms.
The guidance, released Friday, May 28th, provides that employers may require all employees physically entering the workplace to be vaccinated for COVID-19 without running afoul of discrimination laws, provided the employer makes reasonable accommodations for disabilities and religious objections. The guidance only addresses employees entering the workplace, not those working from home.
The guidance also addresses employer vaccination incentive programs. Among the key points, the guidance provides:
· Federal discrimination laws do not prevent or limit employers from offering incentives to employees to voluntarily provide documentation or other confirmation of vaccination obtained from a third party (not the employer) in the community, such as a pharmacy, personal health care provider, or public clinic. If employers choose to obtain vaccination information from their employees, employers must keep vaccination information confidential pursuant to the ADA.
· Employers that are administering vaccines to their employees may offer incentives for employees to be vaccinated, as long as the incentives are not coercive. Because vaccinations require employees to answer pre-vaccination disability-related screening questions, a very large incentive could make employees feel pressured to disclose protected medical information.
· Employers may provide employees and their family members with information to educate them about COVID-19 vaccines and raise awareness about the benefits of vaccination. The technical assistance highlights federal government resources available to those seeking more information about how to get vaccinated.