Can employers require employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine? The short answer is YES.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has indicated that a mandatory vaccination program is not prohibited. However, employers must understand and comply with their duties to accommodate an employee's religious beliefs or disability.
The California Department of Industrial Relations has indicated that an employer who requires its employers to obtain a COVID-19 test and/or receive the vaccine must pay for the time it takes for testing or vaccination because such time would constitute "hours worked." The justification being, that the employer is exercising control over the worker by requiring the worker to perform the task of being tested or vaccinated. Furthermore, any time the employee spends waiting to take a COVID-19 test and/or receive the vaccine is compensable as hours worked. Finally, if an employer requires an employee to obtain a COVID-19 test and/or vaccination, the employer must pay for the cost of the test and/or vaccination, as well as any expenses incurred for travelling to and from the testing or vaccination location if either occur outside of the workplace, as they would be considered business-related expenses under the Labor Code.