We are finally starting a new year. But the big topic of 2020 – the coronavirus – is far from being over. Today, many employers are wondering whether they can (and should) require their employees to get vaccinated.
This is an important topic for all industries. However, where many companies are still allowing employees to work from home, the construction industry does not have this luxury. Many of these jobs were deemed “essential” last year, and with social distancing rules all but impossible to implement on a construction site, employees would need to be vaccinated in order to keep the workplace safe.
In this article, we will go over why it is important you encourage your team to get vaccinated, how you can work with individuals who decline, and how you can make sure you have as large a participation rate as possible.
Think of the greater good
There is some disagreement over whether the vaccine can be legally mandated. Many equate getting the coronavirus vaccination to the yearly flu shot, which is required for healthcare workers. The bottom line is that you should be strongly encouraging it. This is the fastest way to protect the workforce and start to get our country back to normal.
Offer alternatives, if applicable
There are some individuals that will decline to get the vaccine, citing either a medical condition or a religious belief. In these cases, it is important to exercise your right for documentation that can back up these claims; it is not enough for someone to just “disagree” with the idea of taking a vaccine. If someone is able to provide a note from a doctor, for example, see if it is possible to offer accommodations, such as working from home.
Facilitate easy participation
You need to make the hurdle for getting the coronavirus vaccine as low as possible. This should include letting employees get the vaccine during work on their job site, free of charge. Talk to your health insurance carrier to see if they can help facilitate this process. Keep in mind that there may be some protesting by employees – especially if you make the vaccine mandatory. The best course of action is to openly listen to their concerns and to document all of your efforts (in case there is legal pushback).
If you want to encourage the highest levels of participation, your expectations should also be very clear. It is important that you communicate to your team why you are mandating that they get the vaccine, how they can easily do so, and when you expect it to be done.