Like many U.S. businesses, your employer might soon be requiring workers to provide proof that they’ve received a COVID-19 vaccine before they can come into the workplace.
But what should you do if one of your crew members refuses to get a vaccine, contending that he or she should be exempted?
First, find out why the person is claiming a vaccine exemption, then drill down to identify more specific reasons and what you can do in response to their objections.
A claim for a disability-related exemption could be based on previous allergic reactions to other vaccines. Or the person might have an allergy to a component of the COVID-19 vaccine. He or she could also suffer from an autoimmune disorder that could be worsened by the vaccine.
No matter the reason, you have the right to ask the employee to provide you with a doctor’s note explaining the nature of the person’s impairment, what life activities the condition severely limits and why the condition prevents the crew member from getting vaccinated.
Workers might also try to avoid the vaccine mandate by seeking a religious exemption. For instance, someone might say that he or she opposes abortion and the vaccine uses aborted fetal cells.
No matter the religious justification, ask for more details about the sincerely held religious belief that prevents vaccination. Beware canned religious exemptions issued by certain organizations that provide COVID-19 exemptions in exchange for donations.
If the staffer provides you with a legitimate reason for refusing the vaccine based on disability or religion, you must work with him or her in order to identify potential accommodations, which could range from teleworking to a job transfer to daily proof of a negative COVID-19 test.
(From the Sept. 24, 2021, issue of HR Managers Legal Alert for Supervisors. To start your no-obligation trail subscription to the publication right now, please click here.)