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Advice for Contractors on Navigating Vaccine Mandates

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Advice for Contractors on Navigating Vaccine Mandates

The tug of war between worker hesitancy and owner edicts has been causing anxiety for many contractors, but attorneys say there are options — and even advantages — for construction firms to consider in the current situation.


September 1, 2021
Blocks with emojis of people inoculated and not inoculated
Photo: stock.Adobe.com

Construction workers have some of the highest hesitancy rates of any occupation with taking the Covid-19 vaccine, which puts contractors in a quandary between their employees personal preferences and customer’s requirements that workers on their job sites be inoculated.

But while the tug of war between worker hesitancy and owner edicts has been causing anxiety for many contractors over whether they'll be able to staff their jobs, attorneys say there are options — and even advantages — for construction firms to consider in the current situation.

"I kind of like it when the owner says we have a mandate," said D. Albert Brannen, a partner at law firm Fisher Phillips, during a webinar on vaccine policies hosted by the Associated General Contractors of America last week. "It removes that employee relations issue that we've all been dancing around, because everyone in construction knows that if the owner is not happy, we don't get any more jobs."

Aside from not making contractors out to be the bad guys for "forcing" workers to do something against their will, there may also be business and legal advantages for the construction firms that can convince their workers to roll up their sleeves for a jab.

"For some contractors, a vaccine mandate may be the most efficient way to ensure compliance and may place them at a competitive bidding advantage," said Robert W. Sanders, a senior associate at law firm Husch Blackwell, LLP. "Given that more and more project owners are implementing vaccine mandates, contractors likely have a legitimate business purpose to inquire about their workers' vaccine status."

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