Certain industries – including airlines and tourism groups – have pushed for vaccine certification or passports to help ease the process of travel during pandemic. The CDC recently released guidance stating that vaccinated individuals can resume non-essential domestic travel safely. Despite this push, there remains several significant issues to consider related to vaccine passports, and many questions about how it can or should be implemented in the workplace.
In Indiana, a new law now prohibits covered employers from issuing or requiring an immunization passport in the workplace (see Indiana Code 16-39-11).
What is an Immunization Passport?
Indiana code defines an immunization passport as a written, electronic or printed information regarding an individual’s immunization status.
Which Employers Are Banned from Issuing or Requiring Vaccine Passports?
The new law does not place any limits on private businesses, which includes prohibiting those businesses from requiring that their own employees show proof of vaccination. The law applies only to state or local units including a city, town, county, township, public library, municipal corporation, school corporation or charter school. Public employers are permitted to continue keeping immunization records for public health administration and provide people with their own immunization records.
How Does This Law Impact CDC Recommendations for Vaccinated Employees?
While the new law would prohibit public employers from requiring proof of immunization, it does not prevent public or private employers from verbally asking an employee if they have been vaccinated. Such information may be necessary to determine which safety protocols apply based on the CDC recommendations for vaccinated individuals. If an employer inquires about vaccination status, the employer should avoid soliciting information related to an employee’s medical condition (e.g. asking why an employee has not been vaccinated against COVID-19.). A simple “yes” or “no” response from employees would be sufficient. The new law does not prohibit covered entities from continuing to use screening protocols in accordance with local, state or federal guidance.
KGR will continue to monitor the rapidly developing COVID-19 situation and provide updates as appropriate.
Taylor Hunter represents employers in virtually all aspects of employment law for a wide-ranging client base, including both private and public employers with 10 to more than 10,000 employees.