Vaccines: States ban mandates, require leave.

As COVID vaccines get into more arms nationwide, employers are facing several legal questions regarding privacy, employee leave and more. While the federal government has offered general guidance, many state legislatures are drawing clearer lines. Two key issues:

Bias against vaccine refusers

The EEOC has said that employers can legally require their employees to get the COVID vaccine, unless the person has a religious or medical reason for refusing. However, 29 states are considering bills to ban discrimination against people who choose not to receive COVID vaccine shots. (Find links to pending state proposals at theHRSpecialist. com/state-vaccine-bills).

Various state bills address the issue from different angles, including:

* Allowing only medical facilities to set vaccine mandates on staff.

* Extending religious exemptions from employer-mandated vaccinations to all employees who object on broad philosophical or political grounds. (Georgia and Iowa have proposed such bills.)

* Prohibiting mandating vaccines that don't have full FDA approval. Current vaccines in the pipeline only have "emergency use" authorization from the FDA.

* Enacting broad anti-bias prohibitions. Some states--such as Alabama and Arizona--want to forbid employers from mandating any kind of vaccinations. A few states plan to outlaw discrimination against unvaccinated customers.

Paid leave to get vaccine

More states are also drawing lines on when employees should be paid or given leave for vaccination sessions.

For example, California and Illinois issued guidance that says employers that require workers to be vaccinated against COVID must pay them for the time it takes to get their shots.

New York's new law requires every employer in the state to provide employees up to four hours paid leave for each COVID vaccine dose they receive. The law specifies that the paid leave is in addition to any other paid leave the employee may have.

Federal law has addressed paid leave for COVID vaccines in fits and starts. The most recent COVID relief law in Congress allowed employers to voluntarily provide paid time off so employees could get shots and recover from side effects.

Advice: Even if your state hasn't set a standard yet, employers should be prepared to pay employees for the time they spend...

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