To ask or not to ask (if someone is vaccinated): That is the question

The great debate over COVID-19 rages onward, moving from one heated conversation to the next. The latest twist, of course, is getting vaccinated. Adding to the controversy is the question of whether or not an employer has the right to ask. And the answer is yes. Not only is it legal, but the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has stated that under federal law companies can require it, with some exceptions for health reasons or religious beliefs. It’s also worth noting that an employer asking about vaccination status and/or mandating vaccinations is not a violation of HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).  As cases of COVID continue to rise due to the Delta variant, expect to see the number of companies mandating vaccinations to also increase.

Because the topic of vaccinations is such a hot-button and politicized issue, employers need to find a way to normalize it. Inquiring about people’s vaccinations cannot be awkward because it is necessary for safety. Bringing employers back into the workplace where there is a mix of vaccinated and potentially un-vaccinated comes with risks.

Ultimately, Human Resources needs to put policies into place that clearly state vaccination protocols. For example, having employees meet with HR upon their first day back to work and putting on record their vaccination status. If not vaccinated, masks will still need to be worn. Honesty is key here!! Communication is paramount, thereby eliminating uncomfortable situations between employees that may occur while working in close proximity to each other. 

Companies may also offer incentive programs to their employees to get vaccinated, including cash, gift cards or time off. Other options may include providing information about the vaccination and its benefits to address any questions or concerns. Many companies have postponed their plans to bring people back until they feel it is reasonably safe to do so.

It is certainly not easy being an employer these days, especially when there are no definitive answers to anything. Just when federal regulations may have been met; state laws may have superseded them. We are constantly in flux. How can you create a consistent workplace policy when science is unpredictable and governmental regulations shift without warning?

And let’s not even mention…are these vaccination questions ethical? Well, that’s a debate for another day.

Share this blog

Related Posts

Looking for more information?

Please fill out the form and one of our partners will be in touch with you within 24 hours.

See our Privacy Policy

Not Convinced?

Schedule a free
consultation and get



your first project.