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Can an employer have a 'vaccinated-only' hiring policy?

In some cases, yes. Some state laws prohibit employers from requiring vaccines as a condition of employment. In other states, employers are able to mandate that all employees receive the COVID-19 vaccine, with exceptions for medical and religious accommodations when reasonable. As more employers implement mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies, questions arise such as how to advertise the policy in job postings and at what point during the hiring process to make inquiries about a job candidate's vaccination status.

The following recommendations can help to ensure the employer's policy is applied consistently.

  • DO make it clear to potential candidates from the beginning that employees are required to be vaccinated. Job postings can include the vaccination mandate along with any other employment requirements such as passing a background and/or drug test. Examples of possible language include "Full COVID-19 vaccination required" and "All XYZ Company employees must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19."
  • DO include information on how to request an accommodation due to medical or religious reasons and have a clear process for handling such requests.
  • DO define the time frame in which a new hire must be fully vaccinated (e.g., fully vaccinated by the first day of work, one vaccine shot prior to the first day of work) and what the consequences will be for failing to meet the requirement.
  • DON'T make medical inquiries prior to an offer of employment. Instead, clearly state the vaccination requirement during the hiring process and ask candidates if they are able to comply with the requirement, with or without accommodation.
  • DON'T allow individuals to elaborate on the reasons they are or are not vaccinated. This can lead to disclosure of information, such as a disability, that employers are prohibited from considering when making hiring decisions. If a candidate begins to disclose such information, the employer should interrupt and explain that further information is not necessary.
  • DON'T collect proof of vaccination until after an offer of employment is extended and accepted. Once the documentation is received, ensure that it is maintained confidentially.


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