Can companies require a COVID-19 vaccine for employees to come back to work?

OAKLAND PARK, Fla. – As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues across South Florida and the hope for returning to normalcy grows larger, new questions and concerns are being raised.

One such question revolves around whether companies are allowed to require employees to get the vaccine before they can come back to work. Another is whether potential employers can require vaccination to be considered for a new job.

Employment attorney Eric Ruden told Local 10 News’ Saira Anwer that unless you have a medical or religious exemption, your employer could legally require you to be vaccinated from COVID 19.

He also said refusal could come with the risk of getting fired.

“Right now, everybody knows the vaccine hasn’t been that available,” Ruden said. “It would be up to the employer to determine: Do I want to allow this employee to continue working without a vaccine? Do I want to require this employee to work remotely, or do I want to terminate this employee?”

Ruden said he doesn’t expect many employers will require this yet, at least not until the vaccine is accessible to everyone.

He also said a requirement to show proof of vaccination does not violate privacy laws.

“A lot of employers have taken the position, ‘We’re going to wait and see,’” Ruden said.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also weighed in on the topic.

“It’s completely unacceptable for either the government or the private sector to impose upon you, the requirement that you show proof of a vaccine simply to be able to participate in normal society,” DeSantis said.

At CareerSource Broward, a business center for job seekers and employers, leaders said right now they aren’t seeing employers requiring applicants be vaccinated.

“We encourage people to make informed decisions,” said Javon Lloyd, Senior Communications Manager at CareerSource Broward. “There may be some that are out there, but we haven’t seen a huge demand from employers.”

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