At this point, many people have been working remotely for a solid year and a half. But many companies are fed up with this arrangement and are eager to bring workers back to the office to some extent.
Unfortunately, the Delta variant throws a wrench in the works. With COVID-19 cases skyrocketing, employers need to take action to protect their employees if they are to require them to report to an actual workplace. And to that end, many are requiring employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning to work.
At first glance, this may appear to be an infringement of individual rights. But in reality, companies have the right to impose vaccines. And if you refuse to get one and decide to quit your job or are made redundant because of it, you may suffer a financial shock as you will not be entitled to unemployment benefits.
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Violating company policy means you’re out of luck
To be entitled to unemployment benefits, you must have lost your job without being responsible for it. If your business is struggling financially and needs to downsize, for example, that’s a valid reason for being unemployed.
On the other hand, if you are made redundant from your job for regularly showing up late, this is a scenario in which you risk being denied unemployment benefits. Likewise, any time you violate a company policy, that is grounds for termination. And if your company policy is to require COVID-19 vaccines and you don’t get one, then you could be made redundant and ineligible to receive unemployment benefits. The same goes if you quit your job because you don’t want to get the vaccine.
That said, companies that need vaccines generally need to make exceptions for employees who cannot get vaccinated for medical or religious reasons. In this situation, the onus will be on you to prove that you are exempt from your general business policy. In this scenario, if you are made redundant, you may be entitled to unemployment benefits. You can also have a lawsuit for wrongful dismissal. So, in that case, talking to an employment lawyer might be a good thing to do.
Know the rules
Unemployment benefits can be a financial lifeline when you lose your job, especially if you have no savings to lean on. But if you refuse to get the vaccine and it violates your company rules, you need to prepare for your unemployment claim to be denied.
If your business requires vaccines and you really don’t want to get one, but you also don’t qualify for an exemption, you may consider trying to negotiate a different arrangement with your employer. You may be allowed to work from home, if not permanently, at least for the time being while the current epidemic rages on.
Getting vaccinated is a sensitive issue and one to which many people are attached. It is worth speaking for yourself if your company’s vaccination policy does not match your personal comfort level.