Though COVID-19 vaccination rates have picked up in recent weeks, many people remain unvaccinated. And that could mean they’re putting their jobs on the line.
A number of major employers are imposing coronavirus vaccination requirements, and workers who don’t comply — and also don’t qualify for an exemption — risk being terminated for cause. If that happens, those workers likely won’t qualify for unemployment benefits, leaving them in a serious financial lurch in the absence of having savings to fall back on.
JPMorgan, however, won’t necessarily fire employees who don’t get vaccinated. But the banking giant is imposing a strict set of rules for workers who fall into that category. And in time, more companies may opt to follow its lead.
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Harsher rules for the unvaccinated
JPMorgan wants workers to get the COVID-19 vaccination to maintain a safer environment for everyone. And those who don’t comply may face some career and financial challenges.
For one thing, JPMorgan won’t allow unvaccinated workers to travel for business purposes. It also won’t allow them to attend in-person meetings. Those restrictions could constitute career setbacks. Workers who can’t collaborate in person with their colleagues could miss out on opportunities to score raises or promotions.
What’s more, JPMorgan will be deducting more money from unvaccinated workers’ paychecks to cover the cost of COVID-19 testing as part of their health insurance costs. It’s common practice for employers to have workers contribute toward their healthcare in the form of payroll deductions. But soon, unvaccinated workers will see their paychecks shrink even more.
That said, some people can’t get a COVID-19 vaccination for legitimate reasons. Certain health conditions may prevent some people from being vaccinated, and religious reasons may apply, too. But those who can’t get a vaccine should be prepared to provide proof of a valid exemption. Otherwise, their employers may impose financial penalties along the lines of deducting more money for health coverage.
Plus, while workers who have a valid reason for not getting vaccinated generally can’t be fired for cause, they may still be barred from attending meetings or other live events due to health concerns. People who fall into this category may want to consult with an employment lawyer to discuss their rights.
A looming trend?
JPMorgan is only one company. But it’s also an influential one. So it’s reasonable to assume that now that it’s made its policies public, more large employers could impose similar rules. As such, this news should serve as a wake-up call to those who remain unvaccinated but don’t qualify for an exemption.
Many workers argue that getting vaccinated should be a personal choice, especially with the vaccines being so new. But now that the Pfizer formula is officially FDA approved, employers may have no problem requiring that employees get their jab or get out.
Those who really don’t want to get vaccinated and aren’t eligible for an exemption can try negotiating with their employers. Some companies may be willing to let the unvaccinated do their jobs remotely for less pay. These are options worth discussing at a time when companies are imposing more and more vaccine-related rules.