TUCSON, AZ — The COVID vaccines raise some tough questions for employers on whether bosses can or should require workers to take the vaccine.
For now, short supplies mean vaccination operations are having trouble getting vaccines to everyone who wants a COVID shot. But as companies look towards getting back to normal operations, bosses have to consider whether COVID is so dangerous they should require vaccinations whether workers like it or not.
Employment law attorney Ivelisse Bonilla says, “It's a threat. And so when, when we're dealing with a threat to people's health. Everything is treated differently and employers will have more leeway and they'll be able to implement rules and regulations that were not allowed without a pandemic.”
Bonilla says an employer has an obligation to protect the safety of the workplace so it is legal to require vaccinations. She says that’s appropriate in high-risk jobs like first responders or front-line medical workers.
“But if you're in a position where you're working in a position where you're not dealing with clients or patients. Then, if I'm an employer, I would not require it but I would encourage it.”
Bonilla says if workers have a religious objection to vaccines or medical conditions that prohibit vaccinations, an employer needs to try to accommodate them.
“Allowing the employee to stay working from home instead of being at work. So that is why it's so important, where does that employee work. And whether there is not an undue burden for the employer to accommodate that.”
And she says even if the law says a boss can require vaccinations, human nature says in most cases it’s best to just recommend them.