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With the latest FDA approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, more companies have announced plans to mandate the vaccine. However, given today's extremely competitive labor market, some organizations believe that a vaccine mandate would further hamper their ability to hire and retain employees. Would it be an alternative solution to introduce a surcharge on health premiums for unvaccinated employees? Before exploring this option, employers need to know what percentage of employees are on their health plan to determine the effect.
Implementing a surcharge on health premiums for unvaccinated employees through a health program has certain legal complexities. The design and administration of the program must be carefully considered and reviewed by legal counsel. Some important questions that should be considered are:
- Is the program s a participation or health contingent according to EEOC regulations considered?
How will vaccination data and the medical data supporting a R make easy A lternative Standard (RAS) be handled?
- How will a supplement interact with other fitness incentives?
- How will boosters be incorporated?
T there is no clear guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or case law on the legal consequences of levying health plan premiums for unvaccinated employees. ADA, HIPAA non-discrimination rules and EEOC health plan regulations may be involved in the design and administration of such supplements. In addition, state legal restrictions related to vaccines must also be considered.
Although a surcharge may seem less effective than an assignment, employers still risk negatively affecting their brand, losing employees to competitors who have no obstacle to the unvaccinated and possibly exposing their business to disputes. In addition, if a surcharge is introduced outside the open registration period, employees must be given the opportunity to change their benefit choices.
Unfortunately, there is no one – size – fits – all method, but there are alternatives, including the following:
- Incentives: In May, the EEOC announced that employers can offer their employees an unlimited incentive if they are vaccinated by the employee's own pharmacy. a public health department or other care provider. If the vaccine was administered by the employer or an agent, the employer can offer an incentive, as long as it is not so large that it is compulsory.
- Mandate: From a legal perspective, the mandates have survived several challenges. Under the auspices of the EEOC, employers can generally provide COVID-19 vaccinations to employees who physically enter the workplace without violating the federal anti-discrimination laws applied by the EEOC. However, companies that require employees to be vaccinated must consider religious and disability-related objections and explore affordable housing, which may include regular testing, social distancing, or remote work. Restrictions on state legislation related to vaccines must also be considered.
Before making any changes to your current covid-19 risk reduction strategy — whether mandate, supplement, or incentive — make sure you consider the associated effects on your business and employees, including legal implications, management of human capital, culture and brand. Contact a member of your Scott team if you have any questions about your organization's strategic answers.
Disclaimer: Recommendations from Scott Benefit Services are not a legal review, nor do they constitute legal advice, opinions or expertise.