CORONAVIRUS: STRONGER TOGETHER

Utah Businesses Examine Vaccination Policies For Employees

Feb 10, 2021, 6:15 PM | Updated: 10:13 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Throughout the pandemic, Utah businesses have worked to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. Now that people are getting vaccinated, employers face new issues.

The Salt Lake Chamber gave businesses a head start Wednesday on vaccination policies and discussing what is legal and what is not.

Approximately 160 Utah businesses joined a webinar aimed at helping them figure out whether they need a vaccination policy, and if so, what it should contain.

Has your employer created a policy on the COVID-19 vaccine, and will you be required to get one? Lawyers from a solutions-based technology company helped employers sort through the critical questions.

“Businesses need to go into this decision with their eyes open,” said Ryan Parker, vice president of product at SixFifty.

Last December, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said businesses can require their employees to be vaccinated.

“Businesses are left to choose whether to require their employees to be vaccinated or not,” said Parker.

Employees can seek an exemption for either a sincerely held religious belief or a medical condition. The EEOC, however, left the choice up to the businesses.

“Businesses, you can require, in most cases, your employees to be vaccinated,” said Parker. “But there is currently no requirement that employers vaccinate or mandate vaccinations for their employees.”

The businesses were left with three options:

  • They can require employees to be vaccinated.
  • They can encourage employees to be vaccinated without requiring it, which is what KSL-TV’s parent company will do.
  • Or, they can do nothing.

Any of those options could leave some employees unhappy and uncomfortable.

“This is a controversial issue, and that some people feel very strongly that they want to work in a workplace where everyone is vaccinated, and others feel like they don’t want to be told by their employer that they need to be vaccinated,” said Parker.

While some other states are setting up vaccination-related rules for businesses, the Utah Occupational Safety and Health Administration gave this recommendation last month.

“It is suggested that you make vaccines available at no cost to your employees, and also that you provide training on the benefits of the vaccine,” said Marie Kulbeth, COO and general counsel at SixFifty.

If your company requires a vaccine, but you don’t want to take it and don’t have a medical or religious exemption, can you be fired? The lawyers said it depends. But in many circumstances, the answer is yes.

The Americans with Disabilities Act allows an employer to have a qualifications standard that includes a requirement that individuals shall not pose a direct threat to the health or safety of individuals in the workplace.

“If, as a business, you can see that someone who’s not vaccinated would pose a direct threat in your workplace, then that individual no longer meets your qualifications standard and they can be excluded from your workplace,” said Parker.

If your company creates a vaccine policy it should be a clear, written policy distributed to all employees that includes reasons for the policy. It should also include a contact you can reach with questions.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Coronavirus: Stronger Together

Utah COVID testing site. Getty images...
Cary J. Schwanitz, KSL TV

New mobile COVID-19 testing sites open in Utah

With the summer travel season underway and a steady stream of people still testing positive for COVID-19, Nomi Health opened several mobile testing sites across Utah.
28 days ago
The lawn of Timpanogos Regional Hospital was adorned with flags to honor the lives lost to COVID-19...
Ashley Moser, KSL TV

Hospital ceremony honors survivors, healthcare heroes as U.S. hits one million COVID-19 deaths

The lawn of Timpanogos Regional Hospital was adorned with flags to honor the lives lost to COVID-19, those who survived it, and the caregivers and healthcare workers who cared for the sick.
2 months ago
...
Debbie Worthen, KSL TV

Utah County couple gives Minky Couture blankets to medical team at Utah Valley Hospital

Russell Greene doesn't call himself a COVID-19 survivor, he calls himself a COVID-19 miracle. His family thanked medical workers for saving his life.
4 months ago
Salt Lake City's streets were deserted in the early days of the pandemic. (KSL TV)...
Alex Cabrero, KSL TV

A reporter looks back on two years of pandemic in Utah

Two years ago on March 11, 2020, the world changed for many Americans as COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic. Today, things are slowly getting back to normal. 
4 months ago
(KSL TV)...
Jed Boal, KSL TV

U Hospital staff ‘moving mountains’ to beat back omicron surge 

Unlike other parts of the country, the surge in omicron cases has not peaked yet in Utah. According to a top doctor at University of Utah Hospital, the facility was full, and staffing was thin but caregivers remained determined in their mission. 
6 months ago
The Window Rock formation is illuminated on March 17 in Window Rock, Arizona during an event to rem...
Heather Simonsen, KSL TV

Frontline health care workers of color bridge racial gap in time of COVID-19

Lack of trust and access to services has caused devastation during COVID-19 for Utah's communities of color.  
7 months ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...
1-800-GOT-JUNK?

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Utah Businesses Examine Vaccination Policies For Employees