Can your employer force you to get vaccinated against COVID?

Posted On January 27, 2021

No Jab, No Job? 

Can your employer force you to get vaccinated against COVID? While research indicates that around 75% of Americans are happy to get the shot, it’s a question that some people are starting to ask.

For the majority, it’s a question that jumps the gun. Other than front-line workers, first responders and other priority vaccine recipients, the vaccine won’t be rolled out for some months yet, but it does raise a few satellite questions about health and safety at work that employers and unions will need to address. 

There are several facets here: will employers seek to mandate a vaccination program? Will an employee who refuses the vaccine be excluded from the workplace or even lose their job? What about employees who are advised against vaccination on medical grounds – they need a safe place of work. And those employees in public-facing roles? Risk assessing a non-vaccinated person in a post-pandemic workplace will require a whole new approach. 

Scientists are working around the clock to identify the long-term impact of vaccination and how it affects transmission rates. It will be a long time before workplaces are even close to what they were, pre-COVID. There will always be the right to refuse vaccination, but how this will affect employment and the workplace remains to be seen.

It’s reasonable to expect some road-testing of new parameters – redrawing of contracts, proof of vaccination upon applying for a new job and so on – but after the push to make workplaces as Covid-safe as possible, there will be much to be defined and redefined. 

The employee’s right to a safe place of work is paramount. But for some people, the right to refuse vaccination is just as fundamental. The gradual process of rolling out the vaccine will see the law in all these areas develop. Just before Christmas, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued new guidance that seeks to bring some clarification to the shifting complexities of how a post-pandemic workplace will look. 

Whatever happens, Bighorn Law will be at the vanguard of protecting and fighting for your rights and for justice. If you need us, we’re here 24/7. We’ve always got your back.