“Can I force my employees to get vaccinated?” This is a popular question these days from employers. While the answer is a technical “yes” (though they may quit rather than comply) we think the more appropriate question employers should be asking is “should you?” The answer is generally a definitive “no.”
Flat out forcing employees to get vaccinated poses serious legal exposure to employers. You can get hit with human rights complaints and privacy claims if you force your employees to get vaccinated.
A better approach for employers is establishing a reasonable policy regarding vaccinations in the workplace. This can be built into existing employee policies or stand alone. However, the policy still needs to be clear and reasonable in the circumstances.
When preparing polices for our clients, we ask our client to consider the following:
- Are the measures you are trying to enforce necessary based on the work to be performed?
- Are there less intrusive options available to protect employees and the workplace?
- Will the employee’s privacy be protected at all times?
While all vaccination policies still need to allow for refusals based on medical or religious grounds, a well-crafted workplace policy on vaccinations can help you avoid unwanted legal consequences with your employees.
Robin K. Mann, Associate Lawyer