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Can My Massachusetts Employer Require Me to Get the COVID-19 Vaccination?

By McKenna Heath

Since our previous article from August 2021, employers have more frequently established and enforced mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies. Employers have the discretion to implement mandatory vaccination policies for their employees. Certain employees, however, must be vaccinated under Massachusetts law.

Massachusetts requires mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for certain employees, such as those who work in:

  • skilled nursing facilities;
  • long-term care facilities;
  • nursing homes;
  • rest homes;
  • assisted living residences; and
  • hospice programs.

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Certain home care workers and government employees are also mandated to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

It is important to note that the CDC describes an individual as “up to date” with your COVID-19 vaccines “when you have received all doses in the primary series and one booster when eligible.” At this time, getting a second booster is not necessary to be considered up to date. It is unclear at this time whether employers requiring COVID-19 vaccinations are able to also require boosters.

Further, it is important to note that mandatory vaccination policies are still subject to reasonable accommodations for those who are unable to be vaccinated because of a protected legal right. Examples of protected legal rights are disabilities or sincerely held religious beliefs. Reasonable accommodations must be provided for an employee with a protected legal right, unless the accommodations would pose an undue hardship on the operations of the business. Reasonable accommodations would include the unvaccinated employee wearing face masks in the office, working socially distant from other employees, working a modified shift to limit contact with other employees, or receive periodic COVID-19 testing.

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