Whether or not an employer can require workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine

Posted at 6:10 AM, Jan 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-21 11:37:37-05

CINCINNATI — As the COVID-19 vaccine is made available to more people, some people are asking if their employer can require them to get the vaccine before returning to work.

Matt Miller-Novak is a local employment attorney, and he said the short answer is "yes."

"Your employer can require you to get the COVID-19 vaccine," Miller-Novak said. "The guidelines come directly from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission."

However, there are exceptions to this. If a person has a medical reason for not getting the vaccine or they have a religious reason for not getting the vaccine, they could be exempt.

Miller-Novak also suggests employers consider whether or not mandating their workers get the vaccine is a good idea. Some things to consider are what type of employer are they, and will there be consequences workers could impose?

But right now, most employers are suggesting people get the vaccine, and some are offering incentives.

"I have seen employers offer free PTO time and bonuses and raffles and gifts and prizes to try to motivate their employees to take the vaccine," Miller-Novak said. "I think there will be a period of time where the employers try to encourage their staff to do it before they force their staff to do it."

However, Miller-Novak thinks once the vaccine becomes more mainstream, employers will require their workers to get it.

"I'm sure that some of them are maybe just a little bit gun shy right now because it is a new vaccine," Miller-Novak said. "Once 200 million people have received this thing across the world, or several hundred million and there's like five people that got ill, I think they're going to start requiring it."