As the largest inoculation effort in human history kicked off this month, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provided guidance on mandatory employee vaccinations. Here is a brief summary, courtesy of NAM Director of Labor and Employment Policy Drew Schneider.
What they’re saying: The EEOC allows employers to require employees to take the vaccine, so long as the company meets requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.
Equal employment laws still apply during the pandemic, but the EEOC states that they “do not interfere with or prevent employers from following the guidelines and suggestions made by the CDC or state/local public health authorities about steps employers should take regarding COVID-19.”
Disabilities and direct threats: “If an employee is unable to take the vaccine due to a disability, an employer may only exclude the employee from the workplace if that worker presents a ‘direct threat’ to other workers and the employer is unable to provide a reasonable accommodation to the employee that would eliminate or reduce the risk to other employees,” says Schneider.
“If an employer suspects that the employee poses a direct threat, the employer should conduct an individualized assessment of four factors to determine whether direct threat exists: duration of risk, severity of potential harm, likelihood of harm and the imminence of potential harm.”
Religious objections: If an employee objects to the vaccine because of a sincerely held religious practice or belief, an employer must provide reasonable accommodation unless it poses an undue hardship under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, Schneider explains. According to the EEOC, courts have defined “undue hardship” as having more than a minimal cost to the employer.
The NAM says: NAM President and CEO Timmons said in a recent statement about potential vaccine mandates, “While there are likely legal concerns with blanket mandates, if any of our members believed that a requirement at their company was the right thing to do, we would certainly support that within the bounds of the law. Because America’s future depends on folks rolling up our sleeves in a new way.”
Check out the guidance here.
ANN ARBOR, MICH. – The National Association of Manufacturers announced today that it will offer an association health plan to its members, extending affordable health care to small and medium-sized manufacturing companies and member associations in approved states. In states where the association health plan is not available, the NAM will connect manufacturers with available small-group options in their state.
“This association health plan is another step in our work to make the NAM a one-stop shop for manufacturing across the United States,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “With small and medium-sized businesses making up more than 90 percent of our membership, this plan will help provide health care and reduce uncertainty for workers and their employers across the country.”
The plan, called NAM Health Care (www.namhealthcare.com), was developed to meet manufacturers’ unique health care needs. It will offer a portfolio of health benefits options insured by UnitedHealthcare. In states where these plans are available, businesses with 2 to 99 employees will be able to choose from a variety of PPO (Preferred Provider Organization) and HSA (Health Savings Account) health plans. Members will also have access to UnitedHealthcare’s Choice Plus care provider network of more than 1.2 million physicians and care professionals and 6,500 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. UnitedHealthcare will work with any licensed or appointed agents who want to sell NAM Health Care.
In addition, Mercer will provide the NAM’s small business members with consulting services regarding health benefits offerings and contribution strategies, marketing support to educate and enroll their employees, plan administration and compliance services. The Mercer Affinity 365+sm platform will provide members technology for quoting, enrollment and ongoing benefits administration to drive cost efficiencies and facilitate employee engagement.
Association health plans allow companies to band together to manage and purchase health care coverage that may save on annual health insurance costs by providing plans that are typically enjoyed by larger companies at a competitive price. Under NAM Health Care, eligible member companies also will have access to supplemental benefits, including dental, vision and life.
“The work that manufacturers are doing every day grows the economy and strengthens our country, and they deserve the health care they need to do that job with certainty and support,” said Timmons. “At the NAM, we are proud to help lower costs and increase competitive health coverage for the men and women who make things in America.”
NAM Health Care is quoting these plans for eligible member groups for a Sept. 1, 2019, enrollment date. To enroll in these plans, where available, interested businesses may visit www.namhealthcare.com.