Many employers that have operated with largely or entirely remote workforces are planning to fully reopen their workplaces soon and return to some semblance of pre-COVID-19 business operations. Employers across industries are grappling with many of the same issues, such as:
- Should returning employees be required to be vaccinated? If yes, do any exceptions need to be made?
- Should returning employees be required to provide proof of vaccination or is it sufficient to rely on the honor system? Does documentation about vaccination status need to be kept confidential?
- Who is entitled to know about the vaccination status of those in the workplace? How should an employer respond to the concerns of employees who want to be certain that their co-workers have been vaccinated?
- If an employee claims a religious objection to vaccination, what is sufficient for the objection to be religious?
- What choices does an employer have if it questions the religious basis for an objection to vaccination?
- If an employee does not want to be vaccinated during her pregnancy, does that need to be accommodated?
- Can employees who are not vaccinated be required to wear masks and maintain social distancing in the workplace? Is the answer affected by the reason for an employee’s decision not to be vaccinated?
- Could an employer move vaccinated and unvaccinated employees into different locations in the workplace?
- Does an employee who was effective when working remotely and who wants to continue to do so have a basis for objecting to a return requirement?
- What are some of the best resources for employers grappling with evolving workplace safety standards?
Goodwin’s Employment Practice partners based in Boston, New York and San Francisco had a roundtable webinar discussion of these and other questions that were raised by clients.