Popping the Question

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Follow these best practices for inquiring about a potential employee’s Covid-19 vaccination status and avoid paying a fine

The tricky question more and more employers are facing as they require vaccinated employees is this: How do I properly ask about a job candidate’s Covid-19 vaccination status without violating human resources laws?

Inc.com contributor and HR consultant Suzanne Lucas put the question to a couple of employment attorneys and wrote about their answers for the website in September.

This is what they recommend:

O Put the vaccine requirement on the application. You don’t have to wait until the interview to spring the vaccine requirement on a job candidate. Employment attorney and HR consultant Kate Bischoff recommends something along these lines: “This position requires that you be vaccinated against Covid-19 unless you need a reasonable accommodation for religion or a health-related need.”

Then, after making a job offer, verify the person’s vaccination status, or begin the process of figuring out how to make accommodations for the person’s exemption.

O Screen your candidates. Employment attorney Dan Schwartz says companies may consider asking about vaccination status as a screening question rather than waiting until the job interview because it’s not a protected category under most state laws. 

Federal law supports (and sometimes requires) vaccine mandates. “The courts have consistently upheld a business’s right to mandate vaccines for employees as long as you have the proper exceptions for religion and medical issues,” Lucas wrote.

O It’s OK if candidates volunteer that information on their resumes, but it shouldn’t be a requirement.