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We have a client who’s a government contractor and they’re asking one of their facilities what percentage of their guards have been vaccinated. They aren’t sure how to respond to that. What is the legality of a question like that? Can they require vaccinations for guards on duty?

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While employers are allowed to ask employees about their vaccination status, employers should treat this information as confidential unless they have a legitimate business reason to disclose it. For example, employers whose employees are in-home caregivers for elderly clients can most likely confirm to their clients that their employees are vaccinated. The best practice would be to have employees voluntarily consent to the disclosure to avoid potential privacy issues under state law (if applicable). Employers may be prohibited from disclosing additional information, however, such as the fact that an employee didn’t get vaccinated because of a disability.

Alternatively, it is likely acceptable for employers to share a more general statement about their employee vaccination status, e.g. “All employees are vaccinated” or “X% of employees are vaccinated.

If you’re asking about vaccination status, you’ll want to keep some kind of record (so you don’t have to ask multiple times), but how you do so is up to you, unless state or local law has imposed recordkeeping requirements. You may want to keep something simple like an excel spreadsheet with the employee’s name and a simple “yes” or “no” in the vaccination column. If you’d prefer to take a copy of their vaccination card, that should be kept with other employee medical information, separate from their personnel file. Alternatively, you could have employees complete our sample Verification of Vaccination Form.

If state or local law requires recordkeeping, then follow those requirements, including how long the records should be kept. If no law is in play, we recommend keeping the information for as long as you keep other information in employee medical files.

Finally, make sure that you don’t discriminate against employees who aren’t vaccinated because of their religious beliefs or disabilities. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects these characteristics and requires that you make reasonable accommodations for employees whose religious beliefs or disabilities prevent them from complying with your policies.