Avoid Legal Liability; Document Everything
Some business owners see vaccinations as essential to full reopening, but others are reluctant to mandate vaccinations, thinking there might be legal liability for firing workers because they refuse to get the vaccine. My answer to that is:
- Management should go to great lengths to show the reluctant employee that other employees who have been vaccinated will reject their presence. This is why everyone today is working from home safety. Employees getting vaccinated should appeal to everyone's sense of company culture. Perhaps incentives are in order a day or two off with pay or a $300 bonus could suffice.
- All efforts should be made to reassign the employee to a remote work position, or to have them work in physical spaces that prevent them from endangering other employees. Each step in this process should be documented, and management should have the non-complying employee sign off on each step in this "accommodation process."
Might there be individual legal liability for a manager if he/she went about coercing a direct report to get a vaccine, through comments or actions? Perceived employee coercion must be avoided at all costs. Every step by management must be made by the book. Many sly employees with checkered pasts or with ill intent are self-appointed lawyers and can be setting the firm up for a shakedown. But this possibility of getting their ticket punched out the door will haunt them when they are seeking their next gig.
Certainly, extensive data on vaccines and how it applies to your particular industry and your employees' positions within the firm should be disseminated to each employee as a safeguard for both parties.