Many organizations are beginning to require that their employees receive COVID-19 vaccinations as a condition of continued employment. This has, in turn, raised questions about the impact on employers’ unemployment programs for those who refuse and are subsequently separated from employment.
What you Need to Know
We have started to receive questions about vaccine-related separations and benefit eligibility. Just as with many other matters related to the pandemic, this issue is certainly uncharted territory for workers and employers alike; and it is noteworthy to point out that this is also very new to the state unemployment insurance (UI) agencies. This topic is very much in its infancy and remains very fluid, so it is too early to know how each individual state will rule on such separations. Employers are certainly within their rights to establish company policies, and there will likely be individuals who refuse vaccinations and elect to voluntarily quit or are discharged. What is not clear, until such situations move through the unemployment process, is how state agencies will determine UI benefit eligibility/ineligibility if employers include mandatory vaccinations in those policies. It is critical to remember that all such separations, as with any separation reason, will be adjudicated individually on their own merits, based on each state’s existing UI statutes, rules, and regulations.
Properly identifying these separations, and the facts therein, will be important for state agencies to make the most informed decisions possible.
If you are utilizing CaseBuilder
Please use the following guidelines when selecting a separation code:
- If as a result of the announcement or implementation of your vaccination policy, the worker elects to quit in lieu of being vaccinated, you should code this “Voluntary – Dissatisfied with Company Policies.”
- If the worker is being involuntarily terminated pursuant to your policy OR if the worker quits in lieu of being discharged (meaning continuing employment was not an option), please use “Involuntary – Discharged for COVID Vaccine Refusal.”
Regardless of which above code is used, you will want to ensure that you specifically identify, within the Q&A, that the individual was separated due to refusal to receive a COVID-19 vaccine or refusal to prove that they had received the vaccine.
If you are not using CaseBuilder
Please make sure the information you provide to your consultant via e-mail, fax, or phone consultation, clearly sets out that this is a separation due to a refusal to receive the vaccine.
The above information was provided in part by EWS.