Requiring Proof of the Jab: Can Employers Ask If Employees Have Been Vaccinated?

Human resources expert Rob Wilson explains whether employers can inquire about workers’ vax status

VaccineNew data shows that over half of Americans who are 18+ have received at least one vaccination dose. But even as millions line up to get their vaccinations, vaccination hesitancy is still very much an issue. Experts say that we are reaching a ‘tipping point’ in which the demand of Americans desiring the vaccination will greatly diminish in the next 3-4 weeks, leaving a surplus of COVID-19 vaccinations without any willing patients to receive them.

“Vaccine hesitancy is huge right now, and it’s only growing thanks to the temporary recall of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines. Yet as employers, getting all of our workers vaxxed is on the front of our minds. We want to know that our staff and our clients are as safe as possible, yet how can we encourage vaccinations while still respecting an employees’ right to privacy?” queries Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA and employment trends expert.

But are employers allowed to require the vaccination, and even go so far as to require proof that a worker has indeed been vaccinated?

The simple answer to both of these questions is yes, says Wilson.

“Yes, employers can mandate vaccinations, and we are already seeing that happen at many places such as universities,” says Wilson. “And, employers can even require vaccination proof, namely the card you receive at your vaccination appointments. Provided you are requiring this as a measure to protect the safety of the workplace, you are legally allowed to do this.”

Wilson is careful to note that you cannot ask any other personal questions or delve any deeper into a staff member’s medical history.

“This is a cursory check of a person’s vax status. It doesn’t give you license to go any further into your employees’ health records,” says the employment trends expert.

Wilson says offering vaccine incentives is also a good way to ensure vaccine compliance and keeping your workplace safe.

“A recent survey found that many employees could be easily encouraged to get the vaccine if they are compensated,” says Wilson. “It can be surprisingly cost-effective for employers to offer employees a cash reward in exchange for the jab, because if the majority of your staff is vaccinated, the risk of transmission and exposure in your workplace will be greatly reduced.”

Wilson says that along with receiving vaccine ‘bonuses,’ employees also said that vacation days would motivate them to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Paid time off was a runner-up when it came to preferred vaccine incentives,” says Wilson.

But is it ethical for employers to reward employees who get vaccinated?

“It might sound unusual at first, but the reality is that employers have long rewarded employees with incentives like extra cash and time off in exchange for making healthy choices,” says Wilson. “So just as companies can offer cash incentives to workers who stop smoking or who exercise regularly, it falls within the scope of an employers’ rights to offer a reward to workers who get the COVID-19 vaccination.”

For more on this topic, please contact Rob Wilson at