As more and more people become eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines, employers are evaluating the safety concerns of their workforce and are considering whether they can—and should—make COVID-19 vaccinations a requirement for their employees.

Family business owners face the same questions in evaluating competing concerns, as well as the incentives to having their staff fully vaccinated. In making this assessment, family business owners will juggle various opinions, as the decision to be vaccinated or to require vaccination is an ongoing discussion not only in the business context, but also in the personal and family context.

As President Biden has announced a goal to have enough vaccine doses for all adults by the end of spring 2021, the nation is entering a new phase of the pandemic filled with questions—both ethical and legal—on vaccine requirements in the workplace. The fact of the matter is that responding to the many questions that employers and employees have can feel overwhelming from multiple standpoints.

To that end, family businesses not only want to comply with applicable law and are cognizant of the public health imperatives, but they have an added level of desire to truly promote the health and wellbeing of their employees—as many are often their very own family members. Adding to that complexity are the different laws and regulations being enacted that can vary based on workplace location and industry. As an example, New York's governor recently signed legislation that would impact private family business employers, granting up to four hours of paid leave for employees to receive their COVID-19 vaccine.

Recent articles published by our employment advisory team at DWT aim to assist employers in evaluating competing concerns by summarizing EEOC guidance and applicable employment laws concerning healthcare and benefits surrounding COVID-19 vaccinations.

We recommend that family businesses take the time to read the two articles linked below, which hopefully can help answer questions and fill some information gaps when making important decisions, including those surrounding mandates, incentives, accommodations, time off for staff to actually receive their vaccine, and other considerations.

Remember, the laws and regulations surrounding COVID-19 are developing rapidly to address new pandemic concerns, including the spread of variants. Depending on where your family business is located, there may be unique rules and regulations applicable to your state or locality.

We recommend that you consult legal counsel well-versed in the rules and laws of your jurisdiction for guidance and stay up to date on new developments.