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 More businesses are transitioning from virtual workplaces to reopened office buildings, and with that comes the need for new policies that require masks, social distancing and deep cleanings. But should proof of a COVID-19 vaccination also be a requirement for returning employees?  

That was one of the questions NJ Spotlight News reporter Rhonda Schaffler put to NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerkawho was one of four panelists on the April 21 Virtual Roundtable “Back to Work: How Employers are Transitioning to a Post-COVID Workplace.” 

“The bottom line is that businesses can mandate the vaccine,” Siekerka said. “However, the question is, should they? And what policies should they follow? 

Siekerka said while employers do have the right to require vaccinations in order for employees to return to offices and other workplaces, they must make sure the policy does not run afoul of anti-discrimination laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

The best advice I can give anybody is to make sure you engage an attorney to review your policies and make sure that whatever pathway you take is one that has been vetted legally – and also that its something that fits the culture of your organization, Siekerka said. 

Joining Siekerka on the virtual roundtable panel were: Scott Behson, a professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University and leading researcher and nationally recognized expert on the topics of work-family policy and workplace flexibility; Clarice Holmesa registered nurse and chief clinical officer at Concord Management Resources; and Stephanie Werner, a strategic health and well-being consultant and former Human Resources executive at Celgene Corporation and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.