With the rise in the Delta variant of COVID-19, employers are revisiting the issue of whether to impose mandates for vaccination. This week, Shipman Partner Daniel Schwartz spoke with Dennis House and News8 (WTNH-ABC) about the issue.

For employers, there are some important considerations when developing mandatory vaccination policies. Here are a few key takeaways for employers in Connecticut:

  • Private employers can mandate vaccination for employees. If doing so, employers should ensure that the cost of the vaccine is paid for by the employer or insurance, and that employees are provided with sufficient time and time off to receive the vaccination.
  • Employers must consider reasonable accommodations for employees who request an exemption due to a disability, religious beliefs or pregnancy. However, employers may be unable to provide such accommodations for some positions while in other situations, the direct threat that unvaccinated workers pose to the workplace might trump any accommodation. In addition, employers need not provide an accommodation that is an undue burden on the employer.
  • Employers are reminded that requests for accommodations should be viewed on an individualized basis and employers should engage in the interactive process with employees.
  • Employers considering mandates might start with a survey of employees to determine who is and is not vaccinated.  A survey can provide valuable information as to the scope of issue that the employer has to manage.
  • Beyond that, employers considering a mandate should draft an appropriate policy and create accommodation request forms for employees to submit. Employers should train managers and HR staff on how to deal with any requests for accommodations.

Employers should further consider consulting with legal counsel regarding any particular company-specific issues and ensuring that any policy being considered is in compliance with the law. The pandemic is ever-changing and guidance in this area has shifted over time.

Vaccine mandates do not solve all the problems an employer has in dealing with the pandemic, but it solves several, including dealing with quarantines, contact tracing, symptom tracking, travel restrictions, paid time off and more.  Employers should weigh these issues in considering implementing such a policy.