STS Quarterly Issue 12: December 2020

Vaccine Availability Raises Tough Questions

The COVID-19 vaccine is here. Will you require your employees to get it? Have you considered questions such as:

Could your transfer team be barred from conducting removals at hospitals or nursing homes if they are unvaccinated? Could hospice workers steer families to a competitor if you can’t guarantee them your removal team will be vaccinated? Could an employee allege that you have failed to provide a safe and healthy work environment?

The CDC’s vaccination recommendations entered “Phase 1a” on December 3, 2020, with healthcare personnel and long-term care facility residents first on the list to be offered the COVID-19 vaccine in the US. Phase 1b was recommended December 22, 2020 which includes people aged 75 and older and “frontline essential workers.”

While it’s easy to think that because seniors and staff have vaccine access this solves the need to worry about COVID in nursing homes, not all residents can be vaccinated while still others may refuse the vaccine. The result could be elder care staff and ownership sticking with stringent admission requirements for anyone coming into their facility for fear of an outbreak.

Hospitals may impose similar policies, setting up the potential for questions, delays, and misunderstandings in two of the places you most frequently conduct removals.

Death care professionals now have access to the vaccine in the US, prompting Selected members to wonder if they’re allowed to require it of their staff. According to the Society for Human Resource Mangers, yes, an employer in the United States can require that employees be vaccinated with two exceptions. One is for persons medically unable to receive the vaccine under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the other is for persons citing sincerely held religious beliefs under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Weigh your options carefully and seek the guidance of a human resources expert and legal counsel to ensure that if tough questions arise for your business and your transfer team, you have answers.