May 18, 2021

Stacey Smiricky Talks With XpertHR About What Employers Should Consider Given the CDC’s New Mask Guidance

In “What CDC’s Relaxing of Mask Rules Means for Workplace Vaccine Mandates,” XpertHR turned to labor and employment partner Stacey Smiricky for insight on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) new guidance that fully vaccinated individuals may stop wearing masks or maintaining physical distance in most settings.

Per the new guidance, employers are free to maintain more stringent restrictions than the CDC’s safety recommendations. Smiricky suggests that might not be a bad idea. “Removing mask requirements may make employees uneasy,” she said. “An employer should determine the employee population’s comfort level with removing mask requirements prior to taking any action.”

However, Smiricky cautioned against mandating vaccines as opposed to simply recommending them. “If mandated, it may open an employer up to disability and religious accommodation issues to be addressed,” she said. “In addition, they would need to compensate employees for the time to get vaccinated.”

Smiricky also noted that some states are considering legislation to prohibit employers from mandating vaccines or asking employees about their vaccination status. “Unless an employer has a compelling reason to mandate the vaccine, most companies are taking the approach of strongly recommending them and providing information about the vaccines and where they are available,” she added.

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