Indiana Enacts New COVID-19 Employer Vaccination Mandates Law | Jackson Lewis CP

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb signed into law House Bill 1001, limiting COVID-19 vaccine mandates by employers.

Under the law, which took effect immediately, most Indiana employers who require employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine must allow employees to opt out of the requirement based on one of following: (1) medical reasons; (2) religious reasons; or (3) employee immunity to COVID-19 based on prior infection with COVID-19.

Coverage under the new law

Under the law, the term “employee” means “a person who works for an employer on a full-time or part-time basis, whether paid or unpaid”. The term also expressly includes independent contractors, contractors, and student interns or interns.

However, some employers are not subject to the restrictions of the vaccination mandate. The law does not apply to federal employers, federal contractors and healthcare facilities subject to a federal COVID-19 vaccination requirement, or to professional sports organizations and places of entertainment whose employees work in close proximity sports or live entertainment.

Exemptions from mandatory vaccinations against COVID-19

To request an exemption based on medical reasons, an employee must provide the employer with a written exemption statement confirming that the vaccine is medically contraindicated for the employee. The statement must be dated and signed by a licensed medical practitioner, licensed medical assistant or registered advanced practice nurse. The medical provider must have examined the employee. To claim an exemption based on immunity to COVID-19 acquired from prior infection with COVID-19, an employee must provide the employer quarterly with the results of a laboratory test approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Federal Drug Administration (FDA), including any of the following: a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, an antigen test, or an antibody or serological test. If an employer receives a completed statement of exemption for medical reasons or immunity from COVID-19, the employer must allow the employee to opt out of the vaccine requirement without further investigation.

To request an exemption based on religious reasons, an employee must provide the employer with a written statement of exemption indicating that the employee is refusing immunization against COVID-19 because of an honest religious belief. If this statement is received, the employer must make a religious accommodation “pursuant to Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

If an employee receives an exemption from the vaccine, the employer may require the employee to be tested for the presence of COVID-19 no more than twice a week, as long as the test has been approved by the FDA , is the least invasive testing option, and does not create an undue burden on the employee to take the test. The law is silent on whether employers have to pay for the tests.

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Hoosier employers with mandatory vaccine requirements should diligently review and update their mandatory vaccine policies to include the medical, religious, and immunity exemptions set forth in Indiana’s new law and ensure that they are equipped and trained to review exemptions within the limits of the law.