3 Questions Candidates Are Asking About Vaccination Policies
President Biden’s executive order for companies with over 100 employees to require COVID vaccinations have led to varied and polarized reactions from people nationwide. It’s also led to a lot of questions from contractors and remote workers, not to mention business owners.
Here are a few questions about vaccination policies that candidates are asking and how you can proceed with navigating policy decisions with your employer.
- ”If I am working remotely, do I have to get the vaccine?”
Because the vaccine requirement is sweeping for federal workers, healthcare providers and educators receiving federal funds, it’s safe to assume remote workers in those environments would need to comply with vaccine and testing requirements. For employees outside of those sectors or those working in companies with over 100 employees, the simple answer is that we don’t know yet. Although a spokesperson for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is responsible for carrying out the president’s order, has said it would be “safe to assume” remote workers would be included if their company employs over 100 people, OSHA has yet to release its comprehensive set of guidelines. Some experts say there’s a chance remote workers could be exempt since they wouldn’t be exposed to “grave danger” as required under the OSHA statute, but that’s only from a federal legal standpoint.
The bottom line is it depends on your company and whether you are eligible for an exemption in the case of medical necessity or sincerely held religious beliefs. The best starting point is to discuss the requirement with your employer and go from there.
- “Will regular testing suffice instead of getting the vaccine?”
In the case of public health workers in California, testing does not replace the vaccine mandate. For other employers though, particularly those with over 100 workers, President Biden’s mandate does come with a caveat: employees can forgo the COVID-19 vaccine if they submit to weekly testing. The catch is you may be responsible for paying for those tests, but details on that should be included in your company policy. For employers with under 100 employees, vaccine mandates and testing requirements will be a matter of company policy.
- “If I get the vaccine, will I still need to wear a mask in the workplace?”
CDC guidance currently states that masks are not required among fully vaccinated people indoors unless that area is of substantial or high transmission. In most cases, the choice is left up to employees – as long as they are fully vaccinated. You may choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of community transmission if you or someone in your household is immunocompromised or at increased risk of severe disease. At this point though, most states – and companies – have eliminated the requirement for masks indoors. The exceptions are those employers located in states where indoor masks are required regardless of vaccination status.