Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling against the OSHA ETS requiring mandatory vaccination or testing policies and subsequent withdrawal of the standard earlier this year, many employers voluntarily continue to maintain mandatory COVID vaccination policies. For employers with operations in Indiana, a new state law passed March 3, 2022 by the legislature and signed by the Governor imposes certain restrictions.
What is required?
Employers of any size with mandatory vaccination policies must, in addition to exemptions for medical and religious reasons as previously required under federal law, now allow exemptions for “acquired immunity” where an employee has tested positive for COVID-19 on a PCR test, antigen test, or antibody test within the last three months.
For those employees with exemptions, an employer cannot require an employee to be tested for COVID more than twice weekly. Unlike earlier drafts of the bill, the final version does not require employers to pay for such tests.
Additionally, employers must not include any provision that would require an employee to receive a COVID-19 immunization in violation of this law in any contracts, bid specifications, or agreements entered into after March 31, 2022.
What workers are covered?
The law’s coverage is broad and includes not only employees, but also independent contractors, subcontractors, interns, and student trainees.
Which employers are exempt?
Despite its broad coverage, several classes of employers are exempted from the law, including employees of the federal government, federal contractors, healthcare employers that received Medicare of Medicaid funding (and who are thus covered by the federal CMS mandatory vaccination requirement), and professional sports organizations and entertainment venues for those employees who work closely with teams and entertainment on-site.
Takeaways for Employers
1. Revise mandatory vaccination policy to include medical, religious, and acquired immunity exemptions.
2. Train HR personnel on handling all types of exemptions.
3. Determine who pays testing costs and communicate to employees if testing costs will be at their own expense.