Can Employees Be Required to Get Vaccinated or Wear a Mask at Work?


As employees head back to work and customers shop at their stores, there is a lot of legal questions that can come up for small businesses as it relates to COVID 19. Can you require your employees to get vaccinated or wear a mask at work?

On The Small Business Radio Show this week, Attorney Zane Smith says it all revolves around having a safe work environment. He is admitted to the State of Illinois, Federal Bar and Federal Trial Lawyers Bar. As the managing partner of the firm, Zane concentrates his practice on complex litigation and catastrophic personal injury cases.

In my interview, I asked him key questions and decisions that are on small business owners’ mind. (His answers pertain to laws in Illinois so your state laws may vary. Please check with your attorney before taking any action.)

Can you require your employees to be vaccinated in Illinois?

Yes, in general, an employer can require that they be vaccinated before they come back to an office setting. There can be exceptions for medical situations or religious reasons so the employer may have to make accommodation.

Can you force employees to wear a mask if local regulations do not require it?

Yes, you can require that all employees wear a mask for a safe working environment, just not the unvaccinated employees.

Can your employees sue you if they get COVID in the office?

Yes, but they must prove they got it there (which is hard). This is why small businesses have to put standard processes in place to protect employers according to CDC guidelines for a safe work environment and not be negligent.

Can your customers sure you if they get COVID in your store?

Yes, but they must prove they got it at your store. This is why small businesses have provided masks and wipes in accordance with CDC guidelines for a safe environment (and post warning signs about it).

Listen to the entire interview on The Small Business Radio Show.

Image: zanesmith

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