Published Apr 15, 2021 by Maggie Martin
As more Houston companies consider bringing employees back to the workplace, experts say there are a number of critical factors to consider to ensure reopening plans are both safe and legally compliant.
The Greater Houston Partnership hosted Dr. Carl Vartian, Chief Medical Officer of HCA Houston Healthcare Clear Lake, and Tom Wilson, Partner at Vinson & Elkins, for a conversation about best practices for employers. The webinar held on April 15 is part of the Partnership's Restart Houston series. Here are the highlights from the virtual event.
Top 4 Safety Recommendations From Dr. Vartian
Top 5 Best Practices for Workplace Procedures from Tom Wilson
Implications of the COVID-19 Vaccine in the Workplace
Wilson said one of the main legal issues surrounding return-to-work plans is whether an employer can mandate or require employees to be vaccinated before returning to the workplace. He said yes, they can. The question is whether they should.
There may be employees who say they have a health condition that prohibits them from getting vaccinated, which falls under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Or, you could have employees who say they have a religious prohibition against vaccinations, which falls under religious rights.
"This is not a one-size-fits-all situation," said Wilson. Policies and procedures, he also noted, can vary across different industries. There are, for instance, situations where employees live in close quarters on the jobsite, making social distancing a challenging policy to put in practice.
Wilson also said some employees may resist getting vaccinated. He suggested employers consider incentives to help and encourage their employees to move ahead with getting a vaccine, such as PTO or other options.
"Instead of using the stick, you might use carrots," said Wilson.
To view a recording of this presentation, members can log into the Membership Portal at the top right of this screen. To learn more about membership with the Greater Houston Partnership click here, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org. New resources around vaccines, the reopening of worksites and more can be found on the Partnership’s COVID-19 Resources page.