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paid time off for covid vaccine

Paid Time off for Covid Vaccine: How Employers are Supporting Vaccination

Due to the new covid-19 delta variant, HR managers are dealing with challenges, questions, and logistical problems. The recent covid vaccine mandate sits at the crossroad between employee safety and medical confidentiality.  In order to ensure wellness in the workplace, managers are considering giving employees paid time off for covid vaccines.

Navigating crisis management is of primary concern for HR managers. Everyone wants to maintain employee health and wellbeing in the workplace.  As with all decisions made during this difficult time, policies about vaccine-related time off differ from company to company.

Some have been requiring employees to vaccinate before returning to the office. Others have been offering paid time off for employees who receive the vaccine.  This blog post will help you evaluate what plan works best for your company.

Can Employers Require a Covid Vaccine?

The answer is yes. According to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, employers can now require employees to receive the covid-19 vaccine.

Under the new law, consideration is given to employees who abstain from the vaccine for religious or health reasons.  In these cases, measures can be taken to prevent widespread infection.  These include regular PCR testing, mask requirements, and social distancing.

However, not all businesses choose to mandate the vaccine.  Several companies are turning to vaccine incentives, like paid time off, to encourage team members to get the shot.

Can Employers Ask About a Covid Vaccine?

According to the new EEOC law, private employers must separate employee personnel files from their private medical files. While employers can ask for vaccine documentation from their employees, please note that medical information must be kept confidential.

Employees who abstain from the vaccine for approved medical or religious reasons should be guaranteed confidentiality in the workplace.  For these employees, accommodation must be provided and they must be protected from discrimination.

Under the new law, employers may also require covid-19 vaccines before onboarding new employees.  Recruiters are legally prohibited from asking about medical information during interviews and job applications.  However, they can offer employment contracts with the condition that new hires show proof of inoculation.

Is the Covid Vaccine Mandate a HIPPA Violation?

HIPAA violations in the workplace should also be considered when discussing employee medical information. Human resource managers should be cognizant of these laws and determine the best way to manage HR records and employee files.

However, many companies are not required by law to follow the same restrictions as those who are “HIPPA covered entities”.  Check to see if your company is a “HIPPA covered entity” and if your company should avoid non-HIPPA compliant software.

So, what is the best way to manage HR records and employee Files?

Regardless of your company’s status, document storage is of utmost importance when considering the sensitive information of individual employees.  It is recommended that employers utilize a tool to store employee files securely.

employee documents

How to Boost Employee Vaccination Rates

What if your company decides to not require vaccination for employees?  There are several ways that HR managers can help to spread awareness and encourage employees to receive the vaccine.  Here are some of the best ways to proceed.

Awareness Initiatives

HR managers can help by providing information to employees about vaccine safety and PCR tests.  Additionally, human resources should develop the best procedures to minimize infection rates.  There should be clear communication between HR and all team members about taking temperature, hand washing, and mask regulations.

Regular Company Updates

Information about new cases and changing health protocols should be shared with employees.  Human resources should stay up-to-date on new health information and accurately spread the message to employees.

Employee Vaccine Incentives

To encourage vaccination, Kroger offered a $100 vaccination bonus to their employees.  Several other companies have considered paying for childcare and transportation to and from vaccine sites to overcome logistical hurdles.

Paid Time off for Covid Vaccine

Perhaps a more realistic plan for private companies is simply offering their employees time off. Paid time off can grant employees flexibility and facilitate the process of vaccination.  Side effects can greatly impact the well-being of employees and their productivity levels.

Extra Vacation Time

Aside from the time off given for appointments, some corporations have been providing extra vacation days for employees who vaccinate.  Extra vacation days help companies to encourage their workforce while not feeling the financial blow of vaccine bonuses.

Benefits of Paid Time off for Covid Vaccine

Many US citizens have not received the vaccine due to their fear of missing workdays.  Their lack of protection against the virus places both companies and individuals in vulnerable positions.  Paid time off for covid vaccines may be the solution to this dilemma.

  • Tax Credit- President Joe Biden implemented tax credits for businesses providing paid time off for covid vaccines.  Eligible employers with less than 500 employees can receive up to $511 per day for each employee. This initiative was part of the American Rescue Plan, which credits small businesses for covid-related absences.
  • Employee Morale- Like the effects of paid sick leave laws, regulated time off for vaccination can help both businesses and workers.  Paid time off for covid vaccines reduces employee stress and increases loyalty towards the company.  Treating employees as valued individuals is essential for building a solid team.
  • Workplace Safety- By offering paid time off for covid vaccines, companies can decrease the possibility of future covid-19 related illnesses.  Employers should strive to place people and safety first!
  • Mental Health- As mentioned before, extra vacation time is a great alternative to vaccine bonuses. Perhaps employees have been dealing with family illness, death, and instability.  The extra days will also help to relieve employees from the stress accompanying recent obstacles.

Beyond doubt, there are many advantages to paid time off for covid vaccines.  But what should employers do to successfully manage these extra absences?

How to Manage Employee Time Off for Covid Vaccine

From the beginning, the pandemic has been the source of stress for employers and employees alike.  People are exhausted by quarantining, social distancing, and mask-wearing.  Companies need to prioritize the needs of individual team members and maintain a supportive, positive company environment.

HR professionals are trying to manage these difficulties while creating a good atmosphere for their team. To better organize requests for vaccine-related absences, professionals may choose to use an excel template or an absence management software.

Automated systems help to liberate human resource professionals from the tasks of managing time-off requests and tracking hours.

The best way for human resources to maintain accurate records of employee leave is with a time-off management system. This will ensure that company policies are regulated and that employees can ask for their needed days off without hesitation.

Decisions about time off during covid are unique from employer to employer.  Additional software can help your company to customize and align procedures with your chosen way forward.

Leave of Absence Types

 

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