Vaccination mandates have been a hot topic in the news lately. If you’re like most HR professionals, you might be pretty overwhelmed with all the conversation around regulatory vaccination mandates. Every day there seems to be new information coming out, and the volatility of the news makes it challenging to take a stance on tracking vaccination status. Whether you are a small business or a large corporation, we wanted to help shed some light on what these ruling fluctuations mean and why you might decide to track vaccination status without a regulatory mandate in place.
Does Tracking Vaccination Status Go Beyond Regulations?
Many HR leaders have been getting their ducks in a row to comply with OSHA’s ETS ruling. Unfortunately, this regulation has been through several appeals for the past several weeks, and the future of this law is uncertain.
Over the past few months, some employers are enforcing vaccine mandates to ensure every employee is safe while at work and to prevent a potential COVID-19 outbreak that could cause a business shutdown.
Your organization may wonder if tracking vaccination status is vital if there are no regulatory mandates around it. The bottom line is vaccine mandates and tracking vaccination status is complicated. There are several reasons your company might choose to track this information outside of federal or state regulations. Deciding to track this information voluntarily is a personal business choice.
5 Reasons To Track Employee Vaccination Status
Is your organization struggling with whether to track COVID-19 vaccination and testing status for employees? Here are just a few of the reasons you might decide to track and take action on vaccination status:
1. Improve Hiring By Reducing Health Risks And Concerns
Many companies have been facing hiring challenges due to The Great Resignation and worker shortages. Potential employees may have held back from taking on jobs due to the uncertainty of vaccination status and worker protections that keep them and their families safe. The majority of workers world wide back COVID-19 vaccine mandates for the workplace according to an Ipsos survey for the World Economic Forum. Organizations that can prove that they care for their employees and families have made great strides during the pandemic. If your employees need to be in person, creating and enforcing a COVID-19 vaccination policy will help your employees feel safer at work.
2. Prevent Future Business Shut Downs By Finding A Cost-Effective Tracking Solution
According to data in an article published by the World Economic Forum in May 2021, 34% of America’s small businesses are still closed due to COVID-19 compared to January 2020. On top of that, many businesses needed to close temporarily due to outbreaks, especially in factories. If we look back at the year, we realize that the pandemic has had a massive impact on businesses and their ability to stay open/productive. Getting employees vaccinated or getting regular COVID-19 tests is the best way to reduce risk and closures for businesses across the country.
3. Improve Unity And Retention At Work By Reducing Vaccination Status Distractions
There are a lot of distractions in the workplace right now. Who’s vaccinated? Who’s abstaining from getting the vaccination? Are people getting tested frequently enough? Your employees might begin to wonder if they are safe coming to work every day. After all, work is only part of your employees’ day. At the end of a long day at work, employees have to return to their families, which means a lot to people could be effected if they were to bring home a highly contagious and potentially deadly disease from the workplace.
By choosing to implement a company vaccination-or-testing policy, you can give your employees the peace of mind that you are taking actions to ensure their continued safety at work.
Using a system designed to manage and track your employee’s vaccination or testing status that is easy for them to use while providing full privacy and security will help prevent any social tension, division or distractions allowing your workforce to remain focused on their job.
4. Industry-Specific Policies And Procedures On Vaccinations
Outside of more extensive vaccination mandates like the “under review” OSHA Vaccine-or-Test Requirements, many organizations must comply with some industry or location specific mandates. For example:
- The Biden-Harris administration has issued a regulation requiring the vaccine for healthcare staff who work at facilities that participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs.
- Under the Safer Federal Workforce Taskforce, federal employees and contractors are required to be fully vaccinated and maintain vaccination documentation information, this includes employees of any company doing business with a government entity that is working through a government contract.
- City and state-level mandates like the one recently announced in New York City.
As time progresses, you might see more industry-level mandates pop up. Keeping up with the latest news in your industry is imperative, so you don’t miss any mandates that apply to your business.
5. Preparing For Expansive Employer Vaccination Mandates
While the OSHA’s ETS ruling is currently on pause pending further review, there are many possibilities for the regulations or a revised version of the regulations to be upheld. Creating a vaccination-or-testing policy now helps you prepare for any eventual legislation that may happen with an Emergency Temporary Standard ruling or any other vaccination mandates that may occur in your state.
Unfortunately, news around this mandate is moving quickly. You want to protect your business and employees if a mandate were to take effect.
How To Deal With Employees Who Don’t Want To Be Vaccinated
Many employers have dealt with employees who just don’t want to get the COVID-19 vaccine. There have been a couple of ways that organizations have dealt with these challenges:
Offer A Weekly Testing Option
If employees don’t want to be vaccinated, you may offer a weekly testing option instead. Consider asking your employees to take weekly tests and confirm their testing status weekly.
One thing to consider when providing a weekly testing option is if you want to offer to pay for the tests or plan for the employee to source testing options themselves including many free testing sites offered in every state. You will also want to consider if you are planning to allow time off for testing or if this is expected to be done on the employees personal time.
Give Employees A Deadline
If weekly testing isn’t an option or your employees don’t want to take weekly tests, give employees a vaccination deadline. Hopefully, this deadline includes enough time to get fully vaccinated (the process can take 2-6 weeks depending on the vaccine.) You should also provide a bit of wiggle room to give your employees a chance to make an appointment if they haven’t started the vaccination process yet.
Suspend Employees Temporarily Without Pay
After the deadline for vaccinations has passed, you have to start making decisions that move your employees to make a decision or part with the organization. Many companies have used the buffer zone of temporarily suspending employees vs. firing them immediately. This move helps by giving employees a chance to further consider their decision to not get the vaccine.
Before suspending an employee for lack of vaccination, let them know precisely what they need to do to start working again.
Keep up with employees throughout the suspension period. Are they deciding to get the vaccine after all? To reward employees who are moving along the process, you might choose to let employees work from home as they progress with their vaccination doses.
Part Ways With Employees
Are your employees unwilling to test or get the vaccination after their suspension period? You have to take the following steps to terminate employees who are not compliant. Letting go of a team member is never fun, but it’s time to part ways if you have given employees ample time to comply.
How To Handle COVID-19 Vaccination Exemptions
You might also face employees who have legal vaccination exemptions. Often exemptions are given for medical or religious reasons. Under the ETS legislation, those employees would still need to be tested regularly, even if they were exempt from getting vaccinated.
Work with employees who have vaccination exemptions. Make sure you include a clause in your vaccination policy around weekly testing for employees with vaccination exemptions.
Ensure that you have proper documentation of these exemptions. For example, medical exemptions will likely be few and far between. Most experts share that the only valid medical exemption would be a severe allergic reaction to a vaccination component. Religious exemptions also need to be thoroughly vetted before you give one to your employees.
Once you have employee vaccination exemptions, you should file those away and keep that information handy.
Should Employers Track COVID-19 Booster Shots?
Booster shots have recently been approved for all adults who are 18+ in the United States. According to federal guidelines, employees don’t need booster shots to be fully immunized. With new variants of COVID-19 popping up, it is looking likely there may be a requirement to have 3 shots to be considered fully vaccinated in the near future. You might want to track booster shots for your records, but as of December 2021, 2 shots is still considered to be fully vaccinated.
Do I Need To Track Vaccination Status For Remote Employees?
The short answer is no. You do not need to track vaccination status for remote employees. However, you may want to keep up with this information, especially if you want to hold a retreat or get together in some capacity in the future. It never hurts to have all the data you can manage around vaccinations.
What Are Companies Using To Track Vaccination And Testing Status
After learning about vaccination and test tracking, you might be wondering how companies are keeping tabs on all of this information.
Some small businesses are opting to use vaccination and test tracking spreadsheets or forms, but there are a couple of issues with this:
- Spreadsheets and forms aren’t secure.
- Using spreadsheets and forms is a very manual and time-consumptive process.
- You can’t easily keep up with verification documents (like a copy of a vaccination card) alongside a simple spreadsheet or form.
Spreadsheets are a simple solution to a complex problem, especially as the landscape of COVID vaccine mandates becomes more troublesome.
Using Digital Solutions To Track Vaccination And Testing Status
Are you interested in using a digital solution to track and manage vaccination and testing status? Use WorkBright’s new tool, the Mobile Vaccination and Testing Tracker (MVATT.)
We’ve built a stellar solution to help you gather information from your employees about their vaccination status and weekly COVID tests.
With this solution, getting employee data will only take a few clicks of your mouse.
When you get MVATT, you get a solution built on best practices for COVID vaccination and testing status tracking. You’ll be prepared for the ETS ruling or any vaccine mandate you want to put in place as a business leader.
When you get our MVATT package, you’ll be prepared with a cost-effective solution that’s perfect for businesses who need to quickly and easily gather information from employees and report on it easily. Click the button below to check out our COVID tracking solution:
Learn More About WorkBright's MVATT Solution
Resources To Help You Keep Up With Vaccination Mandates
Keeping up with vaccination mandate rules can be tricky. There are so many updates, and it can be difficult to find the most up-to-date information.
OSHA’s website is the best source of information on the OSHA ETS ruling. You can find out more about the ruling and what the vaccination mandate would mean for your business on that website. You can also find the latest information on when/if the ruling will be enforced. While ETS is up in the air right now, getting familiar with this legislation is critical so you can make the best decision for your business if the time comes.
Conclusion: Move Your Business Forward By Tracking Employee Vaccination Status
With all of the movement around employee vaccination mandates, you might have issues keeping up with the latest information. We hope this article helped you weed through some of the noise on this topic as you decide whether or not your organization should track employee vaccination status.
Here are some key takeaways from today’s article:
- There are several benefits to tracking vaccination status outside of mandates, such as improving hiring and preventing future business shutdowns.
- Some employees may not want to get vaccinated, but there are steps you can take to keep everyone safe before you terminate an employee.
- COVID-19 exemptions like medical and religious reasons are rare, but they do happen. Get documentation for these exemptions and do your due diligence. Make sure those employees get tested according to your vaccination policy.
- Companies can use a variety of tools to track vaccination status. The best tools help organizations track vaccination status in a cost-effective way while following best practices for COVID vaccination and testing status tracking.