Can private employers require their employees to get the COVID vaccine?

This is an incredibly complicated issue for your commercial clients who are undoubtedly struggling with this question as the COVID vaccines roll out to the broader population. There are predictions that by the end of May every willing American adult could have the COVID vaccine.

Many Ohioans are scrambling to find every opportunity available to get themselves and their loved ones an opportunity to get the COVID vaccine. There are stories of people driving two hours just to get an available appointment for the vaccine. “Vaccine hunters” finding open appointments has become a cult-like obsession.

On the flip side, there are also stories of many people who refuse to get the vaccine for various reasons. So what happens when the employer wants all of its employees to get the vaccine but the employees object. This article, “Can private Employers Require Employees to Get Vaccinated for COVID-19?”, written by Jade Robinson, explores the legal ramifications and regulations surrounding an employer’s right to require its employees to get the COVID vaccine. Jade Robinson, an Ohio employment law attorney, reviews the requisite U.S. and Ohio laws covering employer and employee rights as it relates to this issue.

According to a recent article in Columbus Business First, “just 10% of U.S. employers recently surveyed said they would make Covid-19 vaccination a condition of employment. However, in that same survey by global advisory firm Willis Towers Watson, 60% of employers have communicated to employees the value of vaccines, and another 35% are planning or considering doing so.

The future of the workplace is surfacing for all businesses, and there’s a lot to consider. As an agency owner and leader, you will bear the primary responsibility for navigating the “return to normal” – or as back to some semblance of normal as can be post-pandemic. Obviously, health and safety will be your top priority, so a redesign of the workplace will be in order. A redesign, both in the physical sense but also in your culture. Your physical work location may be a little easier, you may even find a blueprint to follow. But how do you handle a culture that may have taken decades to build? Maintaining an organizational culture is difficult, if not impossible in a virtual setting. By starting now, and spending the next few months planning you will have a jumpstart on how to combine the best aspects of a redesigned workplace.

The workplace, workforce, and work for the future will no doubt be fundamentally different post-pandemic. Leaders must learn to continually redesign the future of work and now is the time to get started! OIA is continuing to stay apprised of these issues and will continue to share them with you to consider for your agency and transferring the information to your commercial clients.

OIA is preparing a webinar series on these human resources issues and more. Stay current on our upcoming webinars and get registered early. Many of these programs are eligible for continuing education credit and are great ways to learn about the latest issues impacting your clients, agency, and the insurance industry.

We are always looking for additional topics so please reach out to Ashley Fitzsimmons at with your ideas and suggestions.

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