Job Posts Requiring COVID-19 Vaccinations Rise

Vaccine mandates sweep across corporate America

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer August 23, 2021

​More employers are requiring that applicants be vaccinated against COVID-19, and that shift is being reflected in job listings, according to a recent analysis.

The percentage of job postings stating that a new hire must be vaccinated has doubled in the past month, according to the job search site Indeed. The total number of job posts with vaccination requirements remains low—roughly 1,200 postings per million in early August—but is up from about 600 in early July, and about 50 in early February.

The share of job postings, per million, in the education sector that required a vaccination rose to 2,166 in July from 33 in February, according to Indeed. In food service, the rate per million rose to 814 in July from 43 in February.

"Jobs that require vaccination are still a small fraction of postings overall," said AnnElizabeth Konkel, an economist at the Indeed Hiring Lab in Washington, D.C. "But there has been a large increase in job postings requiring vaccinations across a variety of sectors, including software development, marketing, education and sales."

Konkel said that with vaccination rates still not where they need to be to turn back the coronavirus, "employers are doing what they can to keep their doors open and their staff safe by requiring vaccination."

She said that some postings simply state "vaccine required," while others give more specific details or offer alternatives, such as weekly testing and mask-wearing. Some companies are encouraging vaccinations by tying them to hiring bonuses.

The rise in vaccine requirements come as the delta variant of COVID-19 spreads rapidly across the U.S. Just 59 percent of the total U.S. population have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and about 50 percent have been fully vaccinated, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Employers ranging from the federal government to United Airlines and Walmart are requiring that at least some of their workers be vaccinated.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced earlier this year that U.S. employers can require that all workers physically present in the workplace be vaccinated against COVID-19. United Airlines and Tyson Foods are among the companies requiring all employees to be vaccinated, while McDonald's and Walmart have only mandated the vaccine for corporate staff. That could be because some businesses—especially those experiencing labor shortages—are still refraining from issuing mandates for fear of alienating their workforce, experts said.

Requiring Proof of Vaccination

Samantha Monsees, an attorney in the Kansas City, Mo., office of Fisher Phillips, and a member of the firm's COVID-19 Taskforce, said that there are several things employers should consider before asking job applicants about their vaccination status.

First is understanding whether state or local laws prohibit or require such an inquiry, followed by determining the reasoning for asking about vaccination status.

"Before you start asking applicants about whether they're vaccinated, make sure you have a business reason for doing so and the inquiry is related to the job for which the applicant is applying," Monsees said. "There are myriad legitimate reasons for making the inquiry, including if your company is a part of an industry that is required to be vaccinated or if your organization has mandated that some or all of your employees be vaccinated."

She added that if vaccination is required, that should be clear in the job posting as a condition of employment. The job ad should also state that reasonable accommodations will be considered.

Monsees recommended that everyone involved in screening and interviewing applicants know what they can and cannot say about vaccine status. "Equipping your hiring teams with a road map of what they can and cannot say about vaccination status can help avoid liability," she said. "Engaging counsel to help craft these communications is best practice."

Monsees noted that "even though asking an applicant about their vaccination status is permissible, you'll need to ensure you are treating the information as confidential if you collect proof of vaccination, the same [as] you would with any other medical information. Depending on your location, you also may be subject to state privacy laws, such as California, which requires employers subject to the California Consumer Privacy Act to provide a specific notice to employees about their privacy rights."

[Want to learn more about recruiting and hiring post-pandemic? Join us at the SHRM Annual Conference & Expo 2021, taking place Sept. 9-12 in Las Vegas and virtually.]



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