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Damned if You Do.

Updated: May 13, 2021

Covid-19 Vaccination Employment Requirements

Covid-19 infection rates are taking a nose-dive as vaccines roll out. Businesses, especially office functions, are looking to reopen safely and with minimal liability, and a question on everyone’s mind is: Is vaccination required?

In Houston, Methodist Health Systems gives a resounding “Yes”. Methodist issued a mandate, requiring all of its 26,000 employees to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination by June 7th (or an approved religious or medical exemption by early May). Failure to comply will result in a 2-week unpaid suspension, and after that will initiate termination processes.

Other employers, like Google and JPMorgan Chase, are not requiring vaccination, but are strongly encouraging it. Some companies are choosing a middle ground – to incentivize vaccination through cash bonuses, like Kroger, the grocery store chain, offering a one-time $100 payment for vaccination.

Some companies may be waiting to mandate a vaccination requirement pending full approval by the Food and Drug Administration (currently all available Covid vaccines have “emergency use approval” and not full approval), as is the case of public universities in California. University of California and California State University systems came with a notable caveat to a proposed vaccine requirement “[t]hey will only take effect if the Food and Drug Administration gives full approval to one of the existing vaccines, something not guaranteed to happen by the fall.”

Many executives, and employees, may wish to require Covid-19 vaccinations to feel safe to return to the office, but there are a significant number of workers hesitant to receive inoculation. And with an on-going labor shortage (exacerbated by the pandemic and the enhanced unemployment benefits), are companies prepared to lose current employees for requiring proof of vaccination? Or lose employees because they don’t?

A quandary every company is now facing: Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t.

How is your company handling “return to work” requirements?

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