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Why can your employer require you to get a COVID vaccine?

Experts say most employers will encourage rather than require

ATLANTA — ATLANTA – Now that a COVID-19 vaccine is available to the public, it’s possible that your employer may require you to get one.

In most cases, your boss can require you to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

“The general answer is yes, employers can require it,” Dr. Fazal Khan, Professor at the University of Georgia School of Law stated.

Federal and state laws have quite a bit to say on the topic, including the situations where you may be exempt.

First, there are the jobs where you’re more likely to encounter a boss requiring you to face a needle.

“If you work in a hospital setting, nursing home, long term care setting, that seems absolutely essential to get employees vaccinated,” explained Dr. Khan.

RELATED: Atlanta hospitals prepare for first dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine

If an employer decides to require a vaccine, an employee can legally opt out if they have a valid medical excuse.

“So long as it doesn’t create an undue burden on the employer,” said Khan.

Sincerely held religious beliefs are another exemption.

“You have to make a reasonable attempt at accommodation,” said Khan. “If you’re in an office environment where you can do the job remotely, that would be a reasonable accommodation.”

RELATED: Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe | Here's what you need to know

In the past, the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission has recommended encouraging employees outside of the healthcare field to get the flu vaccine rather than requiring it.

There’s always a risk an employee could have a bad reaction.

“There’s potential for liability and a worker’s comp claim,” said Khan. “I imagine that employers would encourage you to get the vaccine.”

A recent Pew Research survey finds 49% of U.S. adults have concerns about the vaccine. Employers have that to consider as they continue to navigate this pandemic.

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