Guidance: Can Employers of Unionized Workers Require the COVID Vaccine?

Proskauer - Labor Relations
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Proskauer - Labor Relations

The Coronavirus pandemic has spawned a lot of questions—and a lot of headaches—for employers, who within the past year have needed to adapt to rapidly changing health, regulatory, and technological landscapes. With the long-awaited arrival of a vaccine comes even more questions for employers: Can I require my employees to get vaccinated? Can I require employees who don’t get the vaccine to follow other safety precautions? For employers with unionized employees, there are additional considerations under the NLRA. Employers have bargaining obligations to their unionized workforces, so whether employers can require employees to be vaccinated, where/when/how vaccines will be administered, and whether discipline can be imposed on those who refuse a vaccine will depend on the terms of the collective bargaining agreement and/or require additional bargaining with the employees’ union.

We have developed several materials to help employers navigate the potential bargaining obligations with respect to mandatory vaccination policies. Visit our website to view an infographic of the decision-making process employers should engage in when considering a mandatory vaccine policy for unionized employees. Our website also offers a list of frequently asked questions (“FAQ”), answering common questions from clients and employers based on the state of NLRB case law today.

As always, we will continue to monitor the latest updates and trends concerning Coronavirus and the workplace. Check back here, or sign up for the email newsletter, to stay up-to-date!

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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