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MANDATORY: U.S. employers can require employees to get COVID-19 vaccine, new guidelines say

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines issued earlier this week say that employers can now bar employees from the workplace if they do not get the COVID-19 vaccine.

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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines issued earlier this week say that employers can now bar employees from the workplace if they do not get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Employers are legally required to ensure a safe workspace for their employees, which may now include mandating vaccinations.

Employers are still held to make reasonable accommodations for employees with sincere religious objection to the vaccine or those with disabilities who cannot receive the vaccine, the guidelines say.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does no allow employers to force employees to receive a medical exam, though the EEOC guidelines do not consider receiving the vaccination a medical exam.  

"If a vaccine is administered to an employee by an employer for protection against contracting COVID-19, the employer is not seeking information about an individual’s impairments or current health status and, therefore, it is not a medical examination," the guidelines read.

According to the guidelines, while a worker can be barred from the workplace for not being vaccinated, a worker cannot be terminated for that reason.

"If there is a direct threat that cannot be reduced to an acceptable level, the employer can exclude the employee from physically entering the workplace, but this does not mean the employer may automatically terminate the worker," the guidelines read.

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