Even as public restrictions are being lifted, employers continue to deal with COVID-19 issues in the workplace. In the Summer of 2020, the issues faced by many employers were working remotely and how to handle the paid leave provisions of the FFCRA. Now, as the spread of COVID-19 continues to slow and vaccines have been developed, employers are facing new issues. The primary issues facing employers as we come out of the COVID-19 haze is the ability of an employer to require employees to be vaccinated and the best advice about masks. In May the CDC issued new guidance on the public use of masks, perhaps surprising many with its statements.
The EEOC issued new Technical Assistance for employers on the Friday before Memorial Day. The Technical Assistance confirms what many commentators have been saying about employer rights in regard to mandating vaccines. Employers may require all employees physically entering the workplace to be vaccinated for COVID-19, so long as employers comply with the reasonable accommodation provisions of the ADA and Title VII. The Technical Assistance also confirmed that employers may offer incentives to employees who voluntarily provide confirmation of vaccination or for the employer to offer vaccinations through the workplace. Employers should consult with their attorney about what incentives employers can provide and the value of the same. Continue to expect the EEOC, OSHA, and the CDC to provide updated information on appropriate precautions.