On May 28, 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated the guidance for employers requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for employees to return to the workplace.
Vaccination efforts operated by an employer or its vendor raise unique issues including prohibitions contained in the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), to assist employers the EEOC established a Guide to help answer frequently asked questions. This guide addressed a broad range of topics, including the following:
Employers may require all employees physically entering the workplace to be vaccinated for COVID-19:
- Reasonable Accommodations as identified by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) may need to be provided for employees with disabilities or sincerely held religious beliefs relating to vaccination.
- Accommodation requirements are fact-specific and subject to consideration with a variety of factors in mind, including whether the employee is a “direct threat” to the health and safety of the employee and others in the workplace.
- Employers should keep in mind that certain demographic groups may face greater barriers to receiving the vaccination than others, such as those with disabilities.
Employers should minimize the risk of receiving confidential medical information beyond vaccination status:
- Employers should not request any medical documentation that could include details or reasoning for why an employee received or declined the vaccination.
Employers may encourage and provide incentives for employees to get vaccinated by:
- Providing educational information about COVID-19 vaccines
- Raising awareness about the benefits of receiving a vaccination
- Addressing commonly asked questions and concerns
- Offering Incentives to employees to voluntarily provide vaccination confirmation
An employee’s COVID-19 vaccination status and any additional information pertaining to it is protected as “confidential medical information** under the ADA:
- The ADA confidentiality requirement applies in all cases, regardless of whether an employee receives the vaccination or not.
Employers Next Steps
- For additional resources, refer to the EEOC Guide.
- Review any of your applicable COVID-19 policies regarding this updated guidance.
- If you are a Full-Service or Virtual HR client and would like our assistance with this e-Alert, please email us.
The People Simplifying HR
For almost twenty years, HR Knowledge has made it our mission to demystify the complex and daunting process of HR management. We do more than just provide the level of service and technology you’d expect from an industry leader. We combine an unparalleled passion for service with our decades of HR, payroll, and benefits experience to provide our clients with personalized and actionable advice that is second–to–none. From managed payroll to employee benefits to HR support, we can help your organization thrive, grow, and reduce operating costs—no matter what industry you serve. Whether you’re interested in our Full-Service solution or just need your employee handbook written, HR Knowledge can help you minimize risk while staying on top of compliance regulations. The bottom line? We’re not just another cloud-based technology company that also does HR, #WeAreHR. Get the scoop on how we can help you simplify HR.
This content is provided with the understanding that HR Knowledge is not rendering legal advice. While every effort is made to provide current information, the law changes regularly and laws may vary depending on the state or municipality. The material is made available for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for legal advice or your professional judgment. You should review applicable laws in your jurisdiction and consult experienced counsel for legal advice. If you have any questions regarding this content, please contact HR Knowledge at 508.339.1300 or email us.