The onset of the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on businesses large and small. Employers had to make decisions like developing remote teams or laying off employees and closing up shop to slow the spread. Fortunately, since then, vaccines have been approved by the federal government and made available nationwide. Although it would seem advantageous for employers to mandate staff to get vaccinated before returning to the workplace, it’s not that simple.
Company-Mandated COVID-19 Vaccines
Ultimately, the federal government has permitted employers to require employees to get vaccinated. However, there are some regulations to consider. Companies can only require employees to get vaccinated if it’s job-related or a necessity for business operations. For example, if you run a daycare or provide services for senior citizens, your employees may be required to get vaccinated to avoid spreading it to clients. Employers must also be careful not to violate the rights of individuals with certain medical conditions, disabilities, or religious beliefs.
Encourage Vs. Require
As a result of the risks of legal and financial liabilities that come with requiring employees to get vaccinated, most employers have opted to strongly encourage it instead. That way, employees can’t hold you liable or try and file a lawsuit against you for discrimination and violation of their rights as US citizens.
Incentives Work Best
If you’re not sure how to suggest or encourage staff, perhaps you should offer incentives. Here are some examples to consider.
- Paid Time Off – One of the most typical incentives to consider is paid time off. Allowing employees to get a day off without worrying about their income could encourage them to get vaccinated. It also makes scheduling an appointment, waiting for test results, and dealing with any side effects more manageable.
- Cover Transportation Costs – Another incentive is covering the cost of transportation to and from the vaccination sites. Employees may not have the means to travel. If you offer them a predetermined amount or the option to turn in receipts, they may be inclined to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Bonuses – Everyone could use some extra cash these days. So, if you want to encourage your employees to get vaccinated, offer them a bonus. You can pay anyone that turns in proof of vaccination an extra $50 bucks. As for potential applicants, after they’ve aced the interview and passed the background checks, you can encourage them to bring their vaccination records on the first day for a cash bonus.
Incentivize With Caution
Encouraging employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine versus requiring it reduces employer liabilities. Incentivizing is an effective way to motivate employees, but employers must still tread lightly. The problem with offering cash incentives is there’s a fine line between encouraging and coercive. If the incentive is too significant or enticing, employees may feel “forced” to get the vaccine because they’ve fallen on hard times. Your incentive program also can’t appear to show favoritism or better treatment of vaccinated employees versus non-vaccinated employees. If either of these things occurs, your company could be in a lot of legal and financial trouble.
Education And Communication
Lack of accurate information and fear is at the top of the list when it comes to vaccination uncertainty. If you want to encourage your employees to get the vaccine, why not try educating them? Providing your staff with facts from reputable sources can be enough to help them get past their fears. You can also consider holding meetings to answer any questions or concerns. Finally, you can enlist the assistance of a medical expert to come and talk with your team.
Business owners have faced several problems since the coronavirus pandemic started in March 2020. Just when it seems like relief is around the corner, there are other obstacles you have to overcome. While the decision to require or encourage employees to get the vaccine is up to you, there’s a lot to consider. As you evaluate your options to make an informed decision, ensure you talk with an attorney and human resource expert to ensure you develop a strategy that protects the company while keeping everyone safe.