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Thousands of businesses across Florida are looking at options to get employees back to work while supporting health and safety. Juggling legal, ethical, and practical considerations is a big job for employers around the state.
Many companies are grappling with the pros and cons of mandatory vaccinations. Legal experts note that the law allows employers to make sure that employees do not pose a threat to health and safety in the workplace. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently clarified that employers could legally require workers to get vaccinated.
However, there are significant concerns about requiring vaccinations. The two major exceptions to the law for mandatory vaccines are religious beliefs and disabilities. This is tricky territory and inspires many employers to steer clear of mandated participation.
Many employers prefer to accommodate individual preferences and avoid the risk of potential lawsuits.
What’s The Best Alternative To Mandates?
As a business owner, your top priority for employees is safety and engagement. Many CEOs are finding ways to make it easy to get vaccinated.
Incentives for vaccination may include paid time off, travel vouchers, and cash rewards. Here is a sample of what other companies are doing to encourage and motivate employees to participate in voluntary vaccinations.
Kroger offers employees a bonus of $100, which was paid after the proof of COVID vaccination. Lidl offered their staff $200.Target is offering paid time off and $15 Lyft credits for up-down traveling to get the vaccination shots. Many employers find incentives to motivate people to participate in vaccination, whether it’s paid time off or some cash incentives
These incentives may seem modest to some business owners. However, many people across the state have been unemployed, working fewer hours, and are strapped for cash. A monetary reward, travel vouchers, and paid time off can help people decide to get immunized.
Communicating Company Policies
As the laws regarding pandemic policy have been changing frequently, many employers have been making an extra effort to communicate updates. Whether you have been in business for years, or are new to owning a business, you most likely have a long to-do list. Here’s what even new business owners can add to a new business checklist.
- Stay in daily contact with your legal team for updates and changes.
- Post policies than your normal business checklist.
- Update your latest company employee background check policies
- Communicate news to your staff via virtual town hall meetings
- Host CEO videos for news, updates, and personal contact
- Share successes and news with personal stories and videos from employees
- Invite employee input on policies and procedures
- Model safe behaviors such as hand-washing, mask-wearing, and social distancing
As workplaces open up across Florida, communication is vital. Many business experts recommend using a variety of methods to share updates such as video, written, email, and audio. Variety keeps employees up to date, engaged, and fully informed.
Staying Safe While Restarting Business
Employers are working tirelessly to keep employees, clients, vendors, and suppliers safe. To achieve maximum safety for a safe return to work, Florida business owners are keeping a keen eye on changes in recommendations and policy guidelines.
The CDC has set forth clear guidelines regarding public safety. These are updated regularly to respond to changing conditions. Among the protocols for the workplace are practices to recognize symptoms for COVID-19, basic precautions, and policies regarding hygiene and etiquette.
With a wide diversity of workplace requirements, employers need to consider how to adapt the guidelines to be effective for their unique requirements.
Unique Conditions Require Unique Responses
Let’s not forget that this pandemic and the return to work is a unique situation. No employer has faced these conditions in over 100 years. As you consider the best responses, look for innovative ideas.
During the pandemic, Holly Hill, a Florida distillery, switched from distilling spirits to making hand sanitizer. They gave over 5,000 gallons of hand sanitizer for free to businesses. In this unique pivot, they were able to navigate the unprecedented conditions—before returning to making limited edition spirits.
Naturally, your business conditions may inspire different ideas, innovations, and pivots.
Talk with your employees, business leaders, and colleagues and keep an open mind.
Many CEOs find that their employees are eager to help, offer ideas, and participate in a return-to-work program. After a year of lockdowns, quarantines, and social distancing, many employees are eager to help—and ready to return to work.