As Ohio and states across the country are gradually moving towards removing COVID-19 restrictions, local businesses are gearing up to bring employees back into the workplace. As a parent, this news is bittersweet. On the one hand, you’re relieved to return to “normal”. On the other hand, you’re worried about exposure to the coronavirus and protecting your family. The most important question is, “What measures are your employers taking to keep you safe?”
There’s been a lot of discussion about requiring employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine before returning to work. The general idea is to have staff vaccinated to reduce the risk of exposure to the coronavirus. The federal government permitted employers to implement policies that enforce vaccinations to maintain employment. Although companies have this option, the risks and liabilities to employers have prompted many to encourage instead of requiring employees to get the vaccine. There are some exemptions.
Religious Beliefs And Disabilities
Companies that have opted to mandate COVID-19 vaccines must be mindful of the laws that protect religious beliefs and disabilities. If your religion prohibits vaccinations, you have the right to say no to company-mandated processes and not lose your job. The same is true if you have disabilities that prevent you from getting the vaccine safely. If you fall into either of these categories, contact your employer to address your concerns so they can accommodate your needs. If an employer threatens to fire you, immediately reach out to an attorney to find out more about your rights.
What about employees that simply don’t want to get the vaccine? After all, the vaccination debate has been going on for years. Can your employer really impede upon your right to choose? If your position requires you to be around the general public, there is a real possibility that your employers can mandate you get the COVID-19 vaccine to continue working. If this is concerning for you, you might consider asking for a reasonable accommodation, such as continuing to work remotely or switching to a department that doesn’t interact with clients regularly.
The other option would be to look for a new job. After you’ve applied for available positions, completed an interview, and cleared any general background checks, you can ask the hiring manager or human resources whether or not you’d be required to take the vaccine before accepting an offer.
What happens if you’re not able to get the vaccine due to financial hardship? Perhaps you don’t have access to transportation to get you to and from the vaccination site safely. Maybe you’re an hourly employee that can’t afford to take time off. Whatever the case is, if your employer has mandated COVID-19 vaccinations, they’re required to assist in ensuring you remain compliant. Companies that strongly encourage the vaccine have also developed incentive programs that can ease your financial struggles. They can offer paid time off, pay for travel costs, or offer cash to employees that provide proof of vaccinations. Again, talk to your employer to find the best solution.
Get Educated And Stay Safe
COVID-19 is a relatively new virus. The vaccines are also new to the healthcare industry. It’s only natural that you would have some reservations about getting the shot. If you’re uncertain, sometimes the best way to ease your fears is to get educated. Ask your human resources department if they have any printed materials, reputable website links, or seminars available for employees interested in learning more about vaccines and potential side effects. In the meantime, play it safe in the workplace by wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, washing your hands, and sanitizing workstations or common areas.
Returning to work in the middle of a pandemic is scary. You want to make a living for your family, but at what cost? Before you make any rash or final decisions about going back to work, learn the facts. Find out what your employer is doing to keep staff safe. If your company has a mandated policy for vaccines, educate yourself on the rules and regulations. Talk with your employer about religious beliefs, disabilities, or civil liberties. Finally, take advantage of any incentives and continue following health and safety guidelines to keep you and your family safe.