As more workforce members become vaccinated, questions arise for employers about the necessity of providing accommodations for vaccinated employees, including those who may be parents to young children that are not eligible at this time for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published guidance informing the public that fully vaccinated people could “resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing. . . .” The CDC defines “fully vaccinated” as two (2) weeks after the second dose in a two-dose series for Pfizer or Moderna or two (2) weeks after a single dose shot for Johnson & Johnson. Employers may need to consider reasonable accommodations requests from fully vaccinated employees, including but not limited to immunocompromised (due to illnesses and/or medication) employees and employees with mental health conditions (anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder), and what accommodations may be provided to fully vaccinated employees, absent an undue hardship, in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Analyzing a reasonable accommodations request is an ongoing, interactive process that is determined on a case-by-case analysis. The process should entail the following: receipt of the accommodations request; request for medical documentation; a discussion of accommodations provided, if any; and a document identifying the agreed upon accommodation(s), if any, or the denial. Employers may consider the following accommodations for fully vaccinated employees – providing flexible work arrangements, allocating more frequent workspace cleaning, ensuring private workspace located farther from others, allowing access to a separate building entrance that does not require the employee to travel through populated areas, and allowing employees to continue wearing face coverings or utilizing other PPE. Employers are not required to provide reasonable accommodations, including telework arrangements, to employees who request that accommodation based on the disability-related needs of a family member.
The goal of a reasonable accommodation is to allow an employee to perform his or her essential functions safely and effectively. Also, as COVID-19 restrictions and policies change, be sure to update your employees on those changes when they occur and create clear messaging to avoid any confusion or mix-ups. Good communication is key as we continue to navigate new norms in the workplace. If you have any questions about accommodations or COVID-19 policies and procedures, please do not hesitate to reach out to White & Story.