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What should I know about the COVID-19 vaccine and my employer?

Can my employer require me to get vaccinated for COVID-19?

Generally speaking, yes. According to the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), your employer can make the COVID-19 vaccination a requirement for returning to work.

What if I do not want to have the COVID-19 vaccine, can I refuse the vaccination and still return to work?

Possibly. An employee may be able to decline the COVID-19 vaccination and return to work if they have a disability that prevents them from taking the vaccine, or a sincerely held religious belief against taking the vaccine.

If I have a disability that prevents me from getting the vaccine, can my employer force me to work from home?

Possibly. An employer can offer a reasonable accommodation for an unvaccinated employee as long as it does not pose an undue hardship to the employer. An employer may be able to refuse the employee entry onto the premises, but not necessarily fire the employee. An employer may be able to refuse the unvaccinated employee entry to the workplace if the unvaccinated employee poses a significant risk in the health and safety of the workplace.

What kind of accommodations can an employee get if they are not vaccinated?

The accommodation must be reasonable and not present undue hardship to the employer. Decisions about type of accommodations are made after discussion between the employee, the employer, and possibly a medical professional. Examples of accommodations include separate working environments, working from home, or wearing a mask.

Can my employer ask if I am vaccinated?

Yes. An employer can ask if you are vaccinated or ask for proof of vaccination. According to the EEOC, this question does implicate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Can I used paid time off (sick leave) to receive and recover from the COVID-19 vaccine?

Possibly. The federal government is trying to encourage employers to offer paid time off (sick leave) to employees to get and recover from the COVID-19 vaccine through the use of federal tax credits.  You should ask your employer if they offer paid time off for this purpose.

Where can I learn more about employer mandated vaccinations?

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have additional helpful information on this topic.


DISCLAIMER: The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland is not a medical institution. Nothing in these FAQs should be considered medical or health advice. If you have questions about COVID-19 or COVID-19 vaccines, please contact a medical professional.

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