With various COVID-19 vaccines approved for use around the world and ongoing mass immunization programs, there is increasing hope of a return to normalcy in the coming months. The number of people getting vaccinated each month will skyrocket, especially among employees.
Many businesses and organizations are experimenting with the best ways to reintroduce their staff to their desks after months of working remotely. Employers understand that the severity of the immunization status of their employees is both moral and lawful.
Now the key question is whether companies will go all the way and take action against employees who haven’t been vaccinated?
Although 70% of Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine and half of the population has already been fully vaccinated, still, millions of Americans remain unvaccinated. Due to increasing COVID cases, employers now require workers to get vaccinated, making it an employer mandate. Cities like New Orleans, Los Angeles, Denver, and New York announced Covid-19 vaccination for employees to get back to their work. In India, many companies like Infosys, TCS, Intel have announced mass vaccination for their employees.
US financial firms stated that only fully vaccinated staff are allowed to return to their headquarters. Morgan Stanley will only allow double-jabbed employees into its New York office when they return in September. In the UK, however, making vaccination a condition of return to the workplace could leave employers open to accusations of discrimination or even unfair dismissal, according to employment lawyers.
As per the latest report, Delta Airlines employees who haven’t been vaccinated yet will be charged $200 per month to cover the costs of possible COVID-19 hospitalization. Since Pfizer’s vaccine received the final FDA approval, prominent companies such as Walt Disney and Ohio State University announced that they will make vaccination mandatory for their workforce.
Is vaccination mandatory for employees?
Vaccine mandates are a burning topic among senior executives in varied sectors at the moment. More than half of 1,000 US businesses surveyed said that they expect to implement COVID-19 vaccine regulations in the workplace by the end of the year, with over a quarter contemplating to make vaccination mandatory in their terms of employment.
Tata Consultancy Services, which employs over 500,000 people all over, has established a vaccination policy under which only vaccinated staff would be permitted to work from its onsite offices. Only those who are unable to get vaccinated due to medical reasons and can present a valid doctor’s certificate to support their claim will be exempt from this requirement.
The Indian government has been vocal on mass immunizations with continued campaigns directed at citizens but no legal notification has been issued directing employers. Hence, businesses cannot make vaccination mandatory for their employees on legal grounds. To protect its already existing and vaccinated workforce, an employer at most can include a term or condition in its new employment contract that requires new employees to produce their vaccination certificates as an obligatory document for employment. Many Indian companies have stepped up to create safety awareness and organized vaccine drives to boost morale and encourage the employees’ return to the workforce and normalcy.
Currently we have varied scenarios floating around vaccination norms and guidelines at the workplace and the situation remains subjective to the countries and the respective COVID situation therein. With the constantly fluctuating infection rates region-wise, the situation has to be closely monitored to identify important developments and necessary guidelines that could alter the future of the workspace environment for employees and industries at large.