No vaccine? Stay home, says one law firm.
On Friday, Aebra Coe at Law360 reported here (subscription required) that a Seattle-based law firm with over 500 attorneys and 2019 revenues of more than $400,000,000 “has adopted a vaccine policy for attorneys and staff that encourages them to get a COVID-19 vaccine once eligible and only allows those who have done so to work in the office or attend firm-sponsored events.”
Specifically, once attorneys and staff become vaccine-eligible and have had the opportunity to get vaccinated, they must prove it to the firm to go to the office or attend events.
Not only will the firm pay for the vaccination if insurance or the government doesn’t cover it already, but it will provide PTO to get vaccinated and recover from any side effects.
Importantly, the firm’s policy further contemplates reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities or religious beliefs that preclude vaccinations. Those employees can contact human resources to discuss reasonable accommodations.
Additionally, the firm stresses that employees who get vaccinated must continue to adhere to other health and safety protocols. (For more on recent OSHA guidance in this area, check out yesterday’s blog post.)
How about in other industries?
During recent editions of The Employer Handbook Zoom Office Hour (available here), we explored mandatory vaccinations vs. recommending vaccinations vs. incentivizing vaccinations. Most of the audience told me that their companies were recommending vaccinations. Some were incentivizing shots; very few were mandating. These results were consistent with those of a similar survey from one of my local SHRM chapters.
So, is mandating vaccines heavy-handed?
Like any good lawyer would say, “It depends.”
In a healthcare setting, it’s a no-brainer. Indeed, many healthcare systems have mandated flu shots for years. So, requiring COVID-19 vaccinations too should come as no surprise.
A law firm should be reasonably well-equipped for remote work. So, requiring vaccinations as a return-to-the-office requirement may not have the same core business implications as a hospital, for example. Still, it won’t impede most employees from performing their jobs either.
Conversely, a manufacturing facility requiring COVID-19 vaccinations would leave most on-site workers who refuse with no remote work options and no employment.
How about your business?
If you work for a law firm or other business that is suited to remote working, will you mandate vaccinations as a condition of returning to the office? Please email me and let me know.