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Vaccine Mandate Cases: How Are The States Ruling?

By January 11, 2022January 17th, 2022No Comments

With many states increasing employer tax rates to replenish state unemployment trust funds depleted due to the pandemic, managing your unemployment costs is more important than ever. Employers want to know if they will be liable for unemployment benefits awarded to terminated employees who did not comply with a company vaccine mandate and left their employment.  

We are monitoring the states to see how they are going to rule in cases where an individual quit their employment or was discharged due to a vaccine policy. It appears most states are siding with the employer in cases that have been adjudicated and the employer is not being charged for benefits. However, it is still early in the process, with many cases still pending a determination. Even in states where individuals may be eligible for benefits for failure to comply with a vaccine mandate (AZ, FL, IA, MT, and TX), we are not seeing clear rulings that the state will grant benefits in every case.

As an employer, you play an important part in the process of controlling your unemployment costs for vaccine mandate-related separations. Strong documentation and uniform enforcement of vaccine policies are vital for defending your case.

  • A written vaccine policy should be provided to all employees and include repercussions for non-compliance. 
  • Ensure the employee has adequate time to accommodate the new vaccine policy. 
  • A signed acknowledgement from your employees can confirm receipt and understanding of the new vaccine policies. 
  • Documentation about how employees were made aware of the policy, compliance deadlines, and documented conversations with noncompliant individuals should be kept in the personnel file. 
  • Uniform enforcement of the vaccine policies across your company is essential.

To make it easier for you to track these cases, your SHIELD portal has 2 new separation codes specific to the vaccine mandates – Voluntary Quit – Refused COVID-19 Vaccination and Discharge – Refused COVID-19 Vaccination to document these cases.  For more information about these new separation codes, please visit: Vaccine Policy Separations.

We are continuing to monitor vaccine related cases, and early indications show the states view these cases as violations of company policy. With proper documentation and procedures in place, you can mitigate the risk to your unemployment costs. If we see any indication of states ruling differently, we will issue an update for those specific states. We are committed to providing up-to-date guidance and support as we enter the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This article was provided by Thomas & Company.

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