Canadian Underwriter

Workplace Vaccination: Should you force your staff to vaccinate?

February 25, 2021   by Adam Malik

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Enforcing a vaccination policy on staff is fraught with challenges, a brokerage expert warned.

It’s a hot-button issue in the industry, according to the results of a recent online survey of more than 1,150 P&C insurance professionals conducted by Canadian Underwriter.

Fully 72% of readers said they planned on getting vaccinated before they returned to the office. About half (53%) said they would not feel comfortable working in the office alongside people who chose not to be vaccinated.

But when it came to talk turkey about enforcing compliance, the split for and against in Canadian Underwriter‘s survey is close to even. A little more than half (55%) of industry professionals agreed that vaccinations should be a requirement before returning to the office.

It may not be that easy, however.

A person may not want the COVID-19 vaccine for a number of reasons, such as health or religious beliefs, Gigi Acevedo-Parker, a registered nurse and Hub International’s clinical risk management practice leader, said during a recent webinar. Younger work colleagues may feel they are less likely to experience severe complications due to a COVID-19 infection, and therefore a vaccination may not be necessary. Some may feel unsure or unsafe about the vaccines to be administered, or they may not be educated about their risk.

Some might say that any mandatory vaccination program could take these circumstances into account. When people choose to opt out of a mandatory program, for example, they can be required to sign a waiver in which they acknowledge, among other things, that they may be at risk of catching the virus and they have been given the opportunity to be immunized.

But that’s where potential issues in the workplace may only begin, Acevedo-Parker warned during the Hub International webinar, Implementing an Employee Vaccine Program: Cost, Access and Communication.

That’s because the employer now has to figure out: How will the employee who declined continue to participate in the workplace?

“So, you must consider: Are you going to suspend some kind of privileges?” Acevedo-Parker said. “Will you think of moving them to other workplaces within the [company]? Would you require them to continue to wear facial coverings?”

Apart from these logistical considerations, a number of other negative aspects are associated with having a mandated vaccination program at work, she observed. One of them is the invasive nature of requiring staff to be stuck by a needle. Not everyone is comfortable with that to begin with; employees may be even more anxious about it in a workplace setting, assuming the employer is setting up the onsite vaccination clinic.

And what happens when you tell employees explicitly, or even suggest implicitly, that their jobs may be in jeopardy if they don’t immunize? That opens up another can of legal worms.

“Obviously, we have some very serious side effects for the company [if an employer says or suggests an employee’s job is in jeopardy],” Acevedo-Parker said. “Liability cases, we know, have [arisen] from other vaccination programs [that] have required employees to take the vaccine….But the risk of liability claims has not necessarily outweighed the reasons that the company has continued on with mandated programs, even with the risk of litigation.”

There’s also a risk to workplace relationships if some colleagues are vaccinated while others are not.

“Potential damage to workplace relationships is one of the things that these researchers have touched on,” she said. “Some have done some extensive research on how having a mandated program may change the whole tone of the workplace. So that must be considered.”

Some people may think: “Doesn’t everyone want the COVID-19 vaccine? Of course, everyone wants to keep each other safe, right?” That’s not necessarily the case.

“Researchers tell us that sometimes the relationship is broken forever within the workforce in some settings [over that belief],” Acevedo-Parker said.

In case you missed any of the other parts of this series, Part One explored messaging strategy; Part Two looked at the role of leadership; Part Three discussed enhancing workplace wellness overall.


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9 Comments » for Workplace Vaccination: Should you force your staff to vaccinate?
  1. Zeee says:

    No, you should most definitely NOT force, or coerce, your employees to take the vaccine. How absurd.

    If your employer can force you to take a vaccine which is essentially untested & unknown in its potential effects, then they can make you do anything. This isn’t a communist country upon which the individual has no rights or freedom. The notion of even proposing it as if it’s the reasonable position to FORCE your employees to take the vaccine is incredibly authoritarian & dystopian.

  2. Eric says:

    And the other shoe drops. Forced vaccinations. Religious or health reasons? How about reasonable reasons. I don’t want to take experimental medication with a what? 5 month test phase!
    55% don’t feel comfortable working alongside people who haven’t vaccinated? How about 45% don’t feel comfortable working alongside people who are so scared of living that they’re willing to force experimental medication on others to make themselves feel safer.
    “Doesn’t everyone want the COVID-19 vaccine? Of course, everyone wants to keep each other safe, right?” Look at this manipulation? As I said yesterday. If the vaccine is so good, you’re already safe. Who cares if the guy next to you has taken it?

    A sickness has truly fallen over Canadians. A refusal to breed to meet minimum replacement targets and now a willingness to rob others of the freedom to choose how they wish to exist in good conscience. Shame on all who participate.

    • Rafik says:

      I couldn’t agree more with you. Our society is falling into a truly delusional fear induced hysteria. Willing to sacrifice everything that makes this nation great. Despite the scientific evidence indicating otherwise, the inconsistency of the major medical professionals statements, or the fact that our government is actively stopping any attempt at even considering actual treatments instead of vaccines. We are approaching this all wrong. Hopefully we, Canada, can get some sense & calmness back & stop living in fear.

      • Eric says:

        Are you sure? Survey said 55% think forced vaccinations are a good idea though. That’s a majority and majorities are never wrong. Ever. Forever.

  3. jason cowan says:

    If I told you that we were going to lock down the global economy for a year, lock people up in their homes or over-priced hotels, or even barb-wired quarantine centers, boot people from their jobs as non-essential, stripping them of their dignity and means of earning an income, ignore patients with pre-existing conditions and deny them necessary diagnostics and treatments, extremely limit their travel (national and international), fine them thousands of dollars for protesting or attending a religious service, or opening their restarant, and coerce people, even force them to take a vaccine which was really an experiemental, gene modification drug in order to protect Canadians from the FLU, you’d say I was crazy.

    Well, with a similar death rate to the flu (even with the grossly inflated numbers attributed to Covids), and with the flu no longer in existence – presumably cured by the Covids virus that is exactly what has happened.

  4. Ali says:

    I don’t feel comfortable taking a vaccine that’s only been under review for months. Whereas most vaccine take years of review. Also, the vaccine doesn’t prevent me from getting COVID-19. The vaccine also doesn’t prevent me from spreading it to other people. All this vaccine does is lessens your symptoms. For a healthy young person, I’d rather take my chances with the virus, compared to getting the vaccine.

  5. Kel says:

    I agree with all the comments made already, no one should be forced to being jabbed by anything, especially an experimental vaccine produced in such a short time.

    Some people may think: “Doesn’t everyone want the COVID-19 vaccine? Of course, everyone wants to keep each other safe, right?” That’s not necessarily the case.
    The manipulation and brainwashing in comments, is unreal these, days…

    Let’s truly look at the positive & actual science… the SARS-CoV-2 virus is 99.8% survivable, average death 82 years old in Canada, average death from the “virus” age 82.

    I am not sure about anyone else, but I have not forgotten the one guarantee in life at birth is death. Or else life insurance would be cheaper to have later in life.

  6. Michelle says:

    I completely agree with every remark here! Those “stats” of 55% are a made up lie. Another form of manipulation. Yet if you disagree with any of this authoritarian crack pot your are “unhinged”. Can’t wait for canadians to finally put their foot down!

  7. Bill Meyer says:

    If an employer mandates compulsory vaccination, can the employer be held financially responsible if the vaccine results in an adverse outcome such as injury or death?

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