by Maurie Backman | Published on Aug. 4, 2021
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As more companies mandate vaccines, it's important that employees understand the implications of not getting one.
At this point, many people have been working remotely for a solid year and a half. But many companies are getting tired of that arrangement and are eager to bring workers back to the office in some capacity.
Unfortunately, the Delta variant is throwing a wrench in the works. With COVID-19 cases soaring once again, employers need to take steps to protect their employees if they're going to require them to show up to an actual workplace. And to that end, many are requiring that employees get a COVID-19 vaccine before coming back to work.
At first glance, that may seem like an infringement on individual rights. But actually, companies do have the right to mandate vaccines. And if you refuse to get one and are decide to quit your job or are terminated because of that, you may be in for a financial shock, because you won't be eligible for unemployment benefits.
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To qualify for unemployment benefits, you'll need to have lost your job through no fault of your own. If your company struggles financially and has to downsize its staff, for example, that's a valid reason for getting unemployment.
On the other hand, if you're fired from your job for consistently showing up late, that's a scenario where you're likely to be denied unemployment benefits. Similarly, any time you violate a company policy, it's grounds for termination. And if your company's policy is to require COVID-19 vaccines, and you don't get one, then you could be terminated and ineligible to receive any unemployment money. The same holds true if you quit your job because you don't want to get vaccinated.
With that said, companies that are requiring vaccines generally need to make exceptions for employees who can't get a jab for medical or religious reasons. In that situation, the burden will be on you to prove that you're exempt from your company's general policy. In that scenario, if you're terminated, you may have a right to unemployment benefits. You may also have a wrongful termination lawsuit on your hands. So in that case, speaking to an employment lawyer could be a good thing to do.
Unemployment benefits can be a financial lifeline when you lose your job, especially if you don't have any savings to fall back on. But if you refuse to get vaccinated and that violates your company's rules, you should be prepared for your unemployment claim to be denied.
If your company is mandating vaccines and you really don't want to get one, but you also don't qualify for an exemption, then you might consider trying to negotiate a different arrangement with your employer. You may be given permission to work from home, if not permanently, then at least for the time being while the current outbreak is raging.
Getting vaccinated is a sensitive issue and one that a lot of people feel strongly about. It pays to speak up for yourself if your company's vaccination policy doesn't align with your personal comfort level.
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