Can your employer make vaccinations mandatory?

As more people get vaccinated and return to work, many are left wondering what exactly employers are allowed to do in reopening the office to workers. Can they actually mandate employees to get a vaccine or force you to go into the office, if you don’t want to?

“Employers are allowed to mandate the vaccine,” employment and labor law attorney Jim Brown said. But there are certain factors that are taken into consideration.

Brown says vaccines need to be made readily available for the entire workforce. The employer is also required to “take into account any serious health condition or medical reasons that a worker may suffer from that would prevent them from having the vaccine,” Brown said. Essentially, the worker’s religious beliefs are also accounted for, where someone doesn’t want to take the vaccine due to religious reasons.

As for returning to the office, Brown says it gets a little tricky.

“If you have the workforce, very concerned about returning to work, you’d have issues with childcare that didn’t exist before COVID. You have issues with transportation to the office, that didn’t exist before COVID. Those are realities that the employer is going to have to take into consideration. We are seeing a lot of employers were doing surveys to identify a fear factor about returning to the practicalities such as childcare, transportation to the office,” Brown said.

The next big question is whether employers would pay workers for taking time off due to reaction to the vaccine, or for the vaccine appointments themselves.

“Certainly. In either instance, there are six particular obligations that an employer has to comply with that help protect the worker,” Brown said. Workers can receive paid sick leave for taking time off to self-quarantine or self-isolate, to recover from symptoms, get the vaccine, or deal with side effects after receiving a shot, signed by Governor Newsom in March.

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Joni Prose