Did you think we’d get here so soon? A year(ish) may not seem like a short period of time to have been dealing with a pandemic and all the changes it brought, but if you think about it it is pretty impressive we now have a vaccine that almost everyone is eligible to receive so soon after the new virus was declared a pandemic. Science is cool!
Anyway, with the vaccine come…new challenges once again. Will we all return to the office? Will some positions remain virtual? Will employers require the vaccine for their employees to return to the office? Will they offer incentives? What will the return to work look like? Many many questions that aren’t accompanied with answers.
We came across this article on shrm.org, and thought it was an important subject to share with you, as many of you are in the HR field, are entrepreneurs, or hold another position which means you will be playing an instrumental role in the way your workplace handles the vaccine and the return to work.
The article offers three main points that employers should be aware of when mandating or incentivizing employees:
Can incentives be perceived as coercive? Or discriminatory? – if an employer chooses to offer an incentive, it may very well serve its purpose and cause more of the workforce to get vaccinated, however it may also bring unintended tax consequences, or if they are of high value, may even be perceived as coercive. Therefore the article advises employers to tread carefully and put careful thought into the types of incentives they offer. Additionally, if you choose to offer one, make sure that you offer comparable benefits to those who object to the vaccine for legally protected reasons (like religion).
When considering a mandate, you may want to carefully consider the true need – If you choose to mandate the vaccine, it may be worth considering limiting it to employees who will absolutely have to be on-site.
Mandating it can come with as many concerns (and more) as incentivizing it – the article notes “legal risks include litigation arising from the failure to make exceptions for those who object and potential workers’ compensation liability for side effects”
Clearly, the vaccine and the way employers handle it is a sensitive subject. Make sure you’re on top of your state laws!