Vax Madness

“I want to stick my head in the sand and ignore all the craziness I’m hearing about vaccination mandates. How do I know what actually affects my employees?”

Your HR Survival Tip

The vaccination (“vax”) madness has only begun, it seems. Vaccination mandates are being introduced and they have a seemingly short compliance period. If a mandate affects your company, you must comply or be fined thousands of dollars. If your company mandates vaccinations, employees terminated for not complying with your policy will not be eligible for unemployment. No lawsuits trying to fight the mandates have been successful… and many have tried.

The following provides just a few highlights of regulations in place or coming soon:

  • Federal contractors and subs — If you are a Federal contractor, subcontractor, or other service provider touching employees working on Federal contracts, you are required to have ALL your employees fully vaccinated by 12/8/2021. This mandate will even affect HR Jungle because we work remotely with the employees of a few Federal subcontractors.

  • Organizations with 100+ employees — If you’re a California company with at least 100 employees (full- or part-time), you will be required to either mandate vaccinations or conduct weekly testing of all unvaccinated employees. You’ll pay for the cost and time involved for the testing so budget for this expense because, so far, we haven’t heard if there is an end date. We expect to hear from Cal/OSHA before the end of this year and be given a deadline for implementation. Plan to be ready to implement fairly quickly after the regulations are approved.

  • Organizations with <100 employees — At this time there are no new rules. You are expected to have a written COVID-19 policy and enforce it, including wearing masks when working around others.

One phrase to remember is “fully vaccinated.” You are fully vaccinated if two weeks have passed since you completed all your vaccination shots. Companies are being required to obtain proof of vaccination but to keep the documentation confidential, as you would any other medical document. We are also recommending having employees sign a certification form stating the vaccination card and information is true and valid. Although the government is tracking down false vaccinations cards and the doctors issuing them, some employees may try to use a fake card rather than be vaccinated.

SHRM (the Society for Human Resource Management) did a survey in September. They found 85% of responding companies expect these mandates to make it harder to retain employees, 72% said the vaccine-or-testing version will be disruptive to their regular business operations, and 78% feel it will make hiring more difficult. While some employees may threaten to leave a company if forced to vaccinate, they must remember that unemployment will not be available to them, and finding work with smaller companies may result in them earning less and receiving fewer benefits. You need to start making decisions and plans now for what your company will need to do to be compliant.

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