Can An Employer Put You on Leave if You Have A COVID-19 Vaccine Exemption?

September 14, 2021Quotes & Mentions
Yahoo! News

Some people claim exemption from their employers' COVID-19 vaccine mandates either for medical or religious reasons. But can employers still place those employees on leave for being unvaccinated? Dinsmore Employment Practice Group Chair Faith Whittaker recently discussed the situation with Yahoo! News. Excerpts are below.

For those who receive a religious exemption, that means indefinite unpaid leave. Employees with medical exemptions, meanwhile, will be placed on medical leave. The requirements have prompted questions about reasonable accommodations afforded to employees under federal law.

“This can be very situational, very circumstantial, and depending not only on the employer and what industry they’re in, but what the employee is actually doing as a job,” said Whittaker.


According to Whittaker, companies have to consider what an employee who qualifies for an exemption does and “whether or not that accommodation — such as a leave — is going to work in that situation.” Factors to consider might be whether the employee works directly with customers, how much of the workforce is already vaccinated and if remote work is possible.

“What is acceptable for a manufacturer worker is different for a flight attendant or professional employee of some sort,” Whittaker said.


Given the fluctuating nature of the pandemic, Whittaker said she advises employers to communicate with their employees and be flexible as things continue to change.

“We’re telling our clients to be flexible in the sense of considering various exceptions and not pigeon-holing exactly what you will approve,” she said. “Only because we just aren’t aware of what’s to come given how many things are new for us and for them.”

Read the full article here.