COVID-19 Vaccines and Protecting Employees Blog Image

Guidance for COVID-19 Vaccines and Protecting Employees

by Amie Remington, Esq., on August 24, 2021
With the Delta variant of COVID-19 causing an increase in the number and severity of COVID-19 cases, many employers are wondering about the legality and potential implications of requiring employees to be vaccinated before returning to the workplace. Employers should ensure they are complying with federal laws regarding worker safety (for both OSHA and the CDC) regarding minimizing the spread of COVID-19. In many jurisdictions, there are state law considerations as well. Learn how we can help you make decisions regarding company-wide vaccine actions, successfully navigate the latest employment laws related to COVID-19 and identify and implement a number of safety measures to mitigate the spread of the virus in your workforce.

Preventing COVID-19 in the Workplace
On July 27, 2021, due to the Delta variant, the CDC issued this guidance to non-healthcare facilities recommending that fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors when in an area of substantial or high transmission. Unless the workplace is 100% vaccinated, OSHA’s expectation in high-risk workplaces is that masks are required for all unvaccinated, at-risk workers, regardless of transmission, and masks are required for unvaccinated workers when the workplace is in an area of substantial or high community transmission. Regarding customer masking requirements, OSHA’s guidance states that employers should consider requiring customers do the same. The CDC also says that persons should continue wearing a mask where required by laws, rules, regulations or local guidance. 

OSHA also updated its website on June 10, 2021 to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for Healthcare and an Updated Guidance for All Industries. These address protecting unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk workers in their workplaces.

OSHA COVID-19 guidance has additional information about how to protect workers from potential exposures according to their exposure risk. Plans should recognize that asymptomatic employees can spread COVID-19. Be mindful that both the OSHA and CDC websites are robust and change on a frequent basis as new information is learned about COVID. Therefore, routine monitoring of the websites is recommended for following the most up-to-date information. Also, please be aware that there is a different guidance for healthcare facilities.

We recommend employers follow the guidelines set by the CDC, OSHA and local authorities to provide a safe work environment and limit liability if an employee becomes ill. Originally issued on Jan. 29, 2021, OSHA established a set of guidelines for protecting employees from COVID-19 that are based on science, best practices and safety standards. This guidance serves to help employers create an effective program to reduce and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.

The CDC recommends that all employers should implement a plan that:
  • Is specific to an employer’s workplace and industry
  • Identifies all areas and job tasks with potential exposures to COVID-19
  • Includes control measures to eliminate or reduce such exposures
  • Follows recommendations of state and local health officials.
All employers should include actions to prevent and reduce transmission among employees and maintain normal business operations and a healthy work environment. According to the CDC, necessary steps should include, but are not limited to:
  • Require all employees to wear masks when inside
  • Actively encourage employees to stay home when they are sick
  • Consider daily in-person or virtual health checks that follow confidentiality guidance and medical record retention processes from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  • Identify where and how workers might be exposed to COVID-19 at work
  • Send any employee who appears to have symptoms home immediately
  • Protect employees at higher risk for severe illness through supportive policies and practices
  • Establish policies and practices for social distancing
  • Give employees, customers, and visitors what they need to clean their hands and cover their coughs and sneezes
  • Perform routine cleaning by following the Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting to develop, implement, and maintain a plan to perform regular cleanings to reduce risk
  • Minimize risk when planning meetings and gatherings by using technology such as videoconferencing or teleconferencing when possible
  • Implement flexible sick leave and supportive policies and practices
  • Remind workers of available support services.
To ensure compliance and safety of a work environment, employers are developing written return-to-work strategies based on guidance from the UCDC and state and local executive orders.

Here are some general examples of proactive measures business owners are taking:
  • Requiring masks and social distancing
  • Enhanced cleaning protocols
  • Daily temperature checks and health screening
  • Conduction of contact tracing if an employee tests positive for COVID-19
  • Shifts to hybrid workplace environments
  • Mandating that employees sign waivers before returning to the workplace
  • Enhancing air filtration systems
COVID-19 Vaccines
OSHA advises making COVID-19 vaccines available to employees and requiring all employees to follow preventive practices, regardless of whether they are vaccinated. Offering vaccine incentives and/or partnership programs with a healthcare provider are a great way to indirectly encourage employee vaccinations. If you are trying to determine if you should require or should not require employees receive COVID-19 vaccines, Amie Remington, Esq., General Counsel, LandrumHR, offers insights on next-step guidance and recommendations for your decision.
Standard Resources for Booking COVID Vaccine Appointments
Vaccines are far more available now than they were earlier in the pandemic. A list of locations offering COVID-19 vaccines can be found in this national database. Just enter a zip code and the search results will list all locations within that zip code.

Florida residents also have this great resource for locating vaccine nearby. On that site, you simply choose county and city from a drop-down menu.

How We Can Help
LandrumHR Risk Management Services can assist you in making your workplace safe and compliant with OSHA, even in the face of ever-changing regulations. Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of any assistance. Simply email, and a Risk Consultant will be in touch shortly.

Early in the pandemic, LandrumHR stepped in to help mitigate COVID-19 risks for a manufacturing client in Pensacola, where more than 200 LandrumHR employees work onsite in manufacturing and related jobs. These early coronavirus prevention efforts helped stave off outbreaks that could have negatively impacted the company, its workforce and its supply chain. 

We bring a professional safety team onboard for you. This team identifies and addresses any risks your company might face. Our services range from safety training to policy-making and OSHA and state compliance needs, such as biomedical waste management.

At LandrumHR, our goals are to create a safe workplace and minimize incidents that could lead to workers’ compensation claims. We assess your company and its existing policies and tailor a safety plan to your needs and your situation.
Through our professional employer organization (PEO) services, we assist our clients with the challenges of a fluctuating workforce. We help you stay on top of the latest regulations, new HR-related issues and help minimize impacts on furloughed employees. Additionally, PEO clients access PPP loans faster with a higher success rate compared to other small businesses. We guide clients through the PPP loan process, providing and organizing the necessary documentation to apply as well as manage the loan forgiveness process. Learn more about how a PEO is a key business partner for navigating implications and issues caused by the pandemic by reading this blog.

If you could use the expertise a PEO can provide, contact us to learn more about what we can do to help you successfully navigate through the COVID-19 crisis, and how we can help you grow and thrive in times of stability.

Other Resources for Managing and Preventing COVID-19 in the Workplace

A full list of COVID-19 prevention and response recommendations for employers can be found here: Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), May 2020
If you have an employee who tests positive for COVID-19, Amie Remington, Esq., General Counsel, LandrumHR, provided important employment law insights to help employers know what they can disclose to their workforce and how proceed with addressing the issue. 

LandrumHR hosted a Q&A webinar and answered attendees’ questions about what employers can and can’t require from employees, best practices for cleaning protocols and how to deal with COVID-19-related leave and layoffs. For more information about COVID-19 in today’s business environment, visit our COVID-19 Employer Resource Center and check out our other OnDemand Webinars to learn about everything from employee safety to PPP loan forgiveness.
Follow LandrumHR on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter to keep up to date on upcoming webinars and other employment news and resources.
Amie Remington, Esq.

As General Counsel of LandrumHR, Amie advises on all business and employment-related legal issues. She is also a regular speaker at national and state-wide events, discussing all aspects of employment law that affect all employers, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the National Labor Relations Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the state counterparts to these laws. Before joining LandrumHR, Amie was a partner in the law firm of Bozeman, Jenkins & Matthews, P.A., where she represented employers, management and the State of Florida in all types of employment-related matters. At the firm, Amie focused on policy creation, prevention of discrimination and harassment and management education and training, as well as all aspects of employment litigation, including trial and appeal work.

View more blogs by Amie Remington, Esq.