May 12th, 2021

Top 5 Tips for Getting Back to Business in a Vaccinated World

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Author: Darla J. McClure

Navigating the COVID aftermath is the next big hurdle businesses must face. As owners, management teams and HR departments work through the return of employees to an in-person work environment and restrictions begin to be lifted, many are asking questions about the right approach to bringing employee’s back.

Here are some tips on the best way to start or continue the return-to-work transition.

  1. Be flexible – The executive orders, ordinances, guidelines, and laws from various federal, state and local jurisdictions provided to employers are constantly changing and evolving. Employers should monitor applicable guidelines and seek advice from an employment attorney to make sure they are in compliance with the most recent developments.
  2. Maintain consistent communication with your employees – Employers should continue to reassure employees that their health is a top priority and provide information on the evolving safety measures that will continue to be taken at the company.
  3. Handle the topic of vaccinations with care – While certain employers may be able to mandate that employees get vaccinated, they need to consider employment laws including, but not limited to, the Americans with Disability Act and Title VII dealing with religious accommodations.  Employers are permitted to ask employees if they have been vaccinated and can request  proof of vaccination prior to providing any sort of incentive for getting vaccinated but cannot require employees to provide any medical information as part of that proof.
  4. Continue to safeguard staff and customers – Employers should  continue to follow CDC guidelines for mask wearing, social distancing, screening staff and customers and requiring employees to stay home when ill as their attendance could pose a direct threat to the health of others in the workplace. Employers must maintain their policies on what to do if an employee tests positive for COVID and update them, as necessary.
  5. Get employees back to the office – Regardless of all the safety measures an employer puts in place, some employees may still feel unsure about coming back to work. Of concern are those employees with qualified disabilities under the ADA and who may be considered high-risk, such as those with compromised immune systems or those over the age of 65. It is likely that some of these high-risk individuals may request reasonable accommodations, which employers should provide. Taking into account such legal considerations, once an employer has decided to reopen and has provided the necessary safety precautions, an employer has the right to require its employees to return to the office. 

You can find more on issues affecting businesses and individuals in our COVID-19 Resource Center.