▶️ Can employers require employees to get the COVID vaccine? Yes, with some exceptions

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By HANNAH SIEVERT
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY

As the vaccine rolls out, some employers wonder: can they require their employees to get vaccinated?

Generally speaking, the answer is yes.

“As a general proposition, most employers in Oregon may require an employee to get a COVID vaccine before returning to work,” Liani Reeves, shareholder and attorney at Bullard Law, said. “There are exceptions though for employees who either cannot or don’t want to take the vaccine for sincerely held religious reasons or because of a disability.”

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission say employers can require employees to take safety measures in the workplace, like getting vaccinated.

Reeves said some exceptions are available for medical or religious reasons.

“Either the religious accommodation or disability accommodation, the employer has to go sort of an individualized assessment to determine can they accommodate it, is it reasonable, and what is the impact on sort of co-worker health and safety,” Reeves said.

If an accommodation isn’t possible and the employer can demonstrate the staff member is a “threat” to the health of others, the employee can be legally “excluded” from the workplace, according to the EEOC.

“A lot of employers will probably opt into making the vaccine not mandatory but optional,” Reeves said.

Reeves expects to see some litigation come from vaccinations requirements in the workplace, possibly from people who say workplace vaccine requirements are an infringement on personal privacy.

“Employers should be careful before they impose any sort of mandatory programs,” Reeves said. “They should really be thoughtful and careful about it and communicate with employees about what their intentions are, because getting buy-in from employees is important as well as you’re rolling out these kind of programs.”

The EEOC outlines vaccine policies employers should follow on their website.

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