Masks On or Off

“I know many places are no longer requiring masks but I’m confused about how to make it safe for employees.”

Your HR Survival Tip

COVID’s evolution has kept all of us confused for nearly 1.5 years. The latest information from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) is great news for those who have been vaccinated. However, masks and distancing are still strongly recommended for those refusing or unable to get vaccinated. Also, California is still enforcing the mask mandate until June 15th so don’t drop those masks too early.

While some companies are no longer requiring masks at work, you need to decide for yourself whether or not this is in your favor. California still has several laws and regulations in place making it the company’s responsibility to pay for quarantines and report cases to workers’ comp carriers. If you no longer require masks, will your risk and costs increase? Those vaccinated will be protected but what about the unvaccinated?

Some companies are choosing to follow the mask mandate in general. However, if an employee chooses to share their vaccination proof with the company, they will be allowed to work without a mask. This means some vaccinated employees will continue to wear masks if they don’t want to provide proof of vaccination, but that’s their choice. This makes sense but will people feel targeted? And who gets assigned to be the mask enforcer?

Technically, it’s fairly easy to segregate those without vaccinations from those who have been vaccinated. Legally, will it appear the unvaccinated are being discriminated against? You can offer the unvaccinated the opportunity to continue working remotely so they aren’t at risk. However, what if they don’t want to, or what if you actually need them in the office?

When we look at our options, there is no clear answer. We have heard of ultimatums to be vaccinated or fired. We have heard of companies trying to keep everyone remote. We have heard of companies setting a return to the office deadline. Companies are trying to decide what works best for them and their employees and that’s what you need to do. Start by reviewing what the company needs, then look at what the employees would like… do they match up, or are decisions needed?

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