The passing of Labor Day is traditionally the start of a new school year and the beginning of a Buffalo Bills season. It is also the launching of a surge of new job seekers into the market post the summertime. These individuals, along with those who have already been looking for new employment, face one of the more unusual job markets I have seen in WNY.
The good news is that there are plenty of open positions across different industries in this area, but the ever-presence of COVID-19 and its variants bring complexity like never before. The newest challenge for some Job Seekers, is the growing presence of COVID vaccine related questions, requirements, and even mandates. It is a relatively small but expanding number of employers that are now requiring employees to be vaccinated in order to work.
COVID-19 and the topic of vaccination has become such a personal and perhaps political hot button over the last several months. The reality for Job Seekers is that it is something that needs to be focused on, and the decision is such a personal one. An individual’s decision to vaccinate is not a subject that we are going to explore in this column. If you are a member of the healthcare industry, then there is not much to contemplate, as in late August, New York made vaccination a requirement. As referenced earlier, many companies (outside of healthcare) however, have begun to implement or are seriously considering COVID-19 vaccination as a requirement for employment.
There are a number of reasons why employers are starting to implement COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Companies are concerned regarding a potential outbreak of COVID interrupting the ability to get work completed. An outbreak that impacts clients can also result in a severe loss of goodwill with customers who were exposed. Organizations are also concerned about the impact of positive COVID-19 cases on its medical insurance, especially in a severe situation.
So, for a current Job Seeker, the COVID-19 consideration now goes beyond whether you are comfortable working in a non-remote setting, or if you have your child or adult care situation rectified. It now includes the topic of vaccination.
The subject of vaccination actually goes beyond the actual shot (or two) and whether it is right for you and your situation. If you have received your vaccination (or plan to), then you will also need to be comfortable supplying this information in the form of a copy of your vaccination card in order to prove that you have actually done it. Furthermore, most organizations will also store this information in its files.
The government has given employers unprecedented leeway when it comes to COVID-19 and the implementation of work rules. There are, however, still some limitations that are in place for an employer when it comes to vaccinations. Even with a vaccination mandate, an employer still must review accommodation requests for both medical and/or religious reasons. Of course, that still will mean that you will need to disclose the reason for your accommodation need during the interactive process. If this is something you are not interested in pursuing, then perhaps exploring other open positions would be best for you.
Although many employers are moving quickly with COVID-19 policies, a vaccination mandate should not be a surprise to a job seeker. If an employer has one instituted, it should be clearly marked on the job posting or advertisement that you are reviewing, so that you can make your decision whether to apply. A company who “springs” this issue on you later in the process should be looked at with a wary eye, since perhaps there are other items in the future that they will not be up front about.
Job Seekers always have to be nimble and aware of the latest challenges that are placed in front of them. COVID-19 has proven no exception with the latest being vaccination reporting and mandates. The government has given employers wide discretion related to how they handle COVID requirements at their individual locations. Candidates (and even employees) will have to decide how they will adapt and respond in this situation.
As always, the best of luck in your job search.
The following has been prepared for the general information of WNYJobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.
Joe Stein WNY Human Resources Professional
Feel free to contact Joe Stein regarding questions or comments at: Joe Stein