Risk alert: What to know when communicating about employee vaccinations

A new CUNA Mutual Group risk alert focuses on recent EEOC guidance stating that employers are allowed to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for in-person employees.

The risk alert states that, with the spread of COVID-19 variants, employers have been placed in a unique situation as whether to require vaccinations for staff as they transition back to in-person work. Therefore, credit union leaders should follow key communication fundamentals when discussing their decision with employees.

Under current Federal Equal Employment Opportunity laws, employers may legally require or incentivize all staff members reporting to a physical workplace to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The exception is employees who opt out of the vaccine for medical or religious reasons, and in these circumstances, employers must provide accommodations compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

While employers don’t want their employees to feel forced into any decision, the risk alert advises that credit unions look to the following key communication fundamentals when sharing decisions about vaccination policies:

  • Leadership should announce any decision regarding requiring vaccinations to ensure message consistency.
  • Explain the reasoning behind the decision, framing it in terms of business, employee protection and/or member support.
  • Highlight your organization’s values and remind employees of the steps your organization has taken to keep them safe during the pandemic.
  • Lean on empathy for those who may not like the decision; listen to concerns and offer support, but remain firm in implementing the policy.
  • Be clear on the organization’s expectations for vaccination, timelines and ramifications for non-compliance.

The risk alert also notes that no matter what the vaccination policy, it is wise to consult an employment attorney or human resources expert before making any official announcement to staff.

CUNA Mutual Group’s risk alerts, in additional to additional risk-prevention resources, may be accessed on their Protection Resource Center. Log-in is required.

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