Employers can require workers to get Covid vaccine and offer rewards, Biden administration announces

COMPANIES can make it mandatory for employees to get Covid jabs and offer them incentives for doing so, the federal government has announced.

As America’s vaccine rollout goes from strength to strength, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has confirmed that businesses can legally require workers to get their shots.

AFP

Employers can require workers to get Covid vaccine, it’s been confirmed[/caption]

AFP

Companies can also offer rewards to staff who get their jabs, the EEOC has said[/caption]

The EEOC has also said employers can hand out rewards to those who get their coronavirus vaccines without facing backlash from anti-discrimination laws.

Although guidance in December stated that companies could require staff to get Covid jabs, many states put forward laws that would hinder this.

It led to businesses offering small incentives to get more of their workforce vaccinated – but question marks hung over whether such methods violated federal disability, anti-discrimination and privacy laws.

The EEOC’s fresh brief says that companies asking for documentation or confirmation that workers have had the vaccine is “not a disability-related inquiry” under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Employers must, however, keep such information confidential.

The commission also adds that “any incentive which includes both rewards and penalties” is not “so substantial” that it is considered “coercive”.

“A very large incentive could make employees feel pressured to disclose protected medical information,” guidance states.

But it does not say what would be considered “coercive”.

It comes as more than 50 per cent of the population have been given at least a first dose, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while some 40.2 per cent are fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, the US is taking a “very close look” at the possibility of requiring vaccine passports to fly in and out of the country, a White House official said Friday.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas made the announcement to Good Morning America, despite repeated assurances from the Biden administration that they have no plans to impose such a system.

“We’re taking a very close look at that,” Mayorkas said when asked about the possibility of vaccine passports being introduced.

“You know, one of our principles that has guided us throughout this pandemic is the value of diversity, equity and inclusion and making sure that any passport that we provide for vaccinations is accessible to all and that no one is disenfranchised,” he added.

“There’s an underlying point here, of course, which is: Everyone should get vaccinated.”

Covid case rates have declined significantly in recent weeks across the US.

The positive trends led the CDC to relax recomendations against traveling domestically and gathering in groups outdoors or with other fully vaccinated individuals.

While the virus is showing signs of slowing, Mayorkas still encouraged Americans who haven’t yet been vaccinated to go out a get a shot.

“We’ve got vaccination centers everywhere — no more than a few miles from everyone’s homes,” he said.

“And it’s so important to get that vaccine, make one safe, make one’s loved ones and friends safe around you.

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