As the country starts ramping up the COVID-19 vaccination effort, organizations are contemplating all sorts of compliance questions and logistics around vaccinations and the workplace. Most of the organizations who have started to think about this issue are those whose employees are currently eligible to receive the vaccine, such as educators and healthcare workers. Those employers are now facing an urgent need to create policies that guide the workforce and encourage vaccines while maintaining compliance in accommodating employees with special needs. In addition, some organizations, whose staff are largely ineligible now for the vaccine, are being proactive in preparing a vaccination plan as part of their return to a workplace plan.
Below are some best practices to help organizations formulate a robust and inclusive vaccination plan:
Conduct a pulse survey to understand and address employee concerns. It is important to understand what factors encourage or discourage employees from getting vaccinated.
Educate your employees about vaccinations and where to get the vaccine in the community. While acknowledging and promoting the efficacy of vaccines, it is also important to mention the side effects of the vaccines as well to assist employees to make their decisions.
Collaborate with HR Team to reach out to the insurance vendor regarding the cost of the vaccinations. While CDC states that the vaccine will be given to the American people at no cost, vaccination providers may charge an administration fee for giving the shot. As a result, it will be helpful for employees to know ahead of time if such a fee can be reimbursed by the insurance provider, or paid by the employer.
Make necessary accommodations whether or not your organization decide to require a vaccine before returning to work. Be prepared to provide exemptions to employees such as telecommuting or unpaid leave under applicable laws for those who claim medical or religious exemptions, when appropriate.
Establish flexible time off policies to encourage staff to get vaccinated and offer paid time off for employees to get the vaccine and recover from any potential side effects.
Keep an eye on the federal and state policies. Employers considering to implement a workplace vaccination program should also use guidance from experts from public health institutions.
Organizations may have different approaches when designing a vaccination strategy. For organizations whose work can be done remotely without difficulties, those employers have more time to assess, design the policies, and execute the plan. However, for those whose employees are essential workers, employers should provide resources and the necessary support where needed.
Please see below for additional resources and reach out to your HR Advisor if you have any additional questions.
How to determine eligibility for COVID-19 vaccine and schedule an appointment in New York State
To determine eligibility and schedule appointments at New York State-run vaccination sites only, use the Am I Eligible app. You can also call the New York State COVID-19 Vaccination Hotline at 1-833-NYS-4-VAX (1-833-697-4829).
How to determine eligibility for COVID-19 vaccine and schedule an appointment in New York City