Employers can require workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccination, according to updated guidance released Friday by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Federal equal employment opportunity laws do not prevent an employer from requiring all employees physically entering a workplace to be vaccinated for COVID-19, the agency said. Employers, however, must keep in mind that some individuals are unable to receive the vaccine and must make accommodations as required under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the EEOC said.
“From an EEO perspective, employers should keep in mind that because some individuals or demographic groups may face greater barriers to receiving a COVID-19 vaccination than others, some employees may be more likely to be negatively impacted by a vaccination requirement,” according to the EEOC’s May 28 bulletin.
Companies may offer incentives for employees to voluntarily share their vaccination status, the agency said, and any information provided to employers must be kept strictly confidential, per the ADA.
Companies also may offer incentives for employees to get vaccinated. The EEOC cautioned, however: “Because vaccinations require employees to answer pre-vaccination disability-related screening questions, a very large incentive could make employees feel pressured to disclose protected medical information.”
The EEOC said no restrictions exist in regards to employers providing educational information to employees and their family members about the benefits of being vaccinated.
“The EEOC will continue to clarify and update our COVID-19 technical assistance to ensure that we are providing the public with clear, easy to understand, and helpful information. We will continue to address the issues that were raised at the Commission’s recent hearing on the civil rights impact of COVID-19,” according to the update.The update follows December guidance from the EECO that said that employers could require proof of COVID-19 vaccination from employees, with some exceptions.