Employers across the nation are promoting safety protocols by requiring employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to work in person or risk severe consequences of their employment.
Merck, like many businesses with over 100 employees, is introducing or has the potential of introducing vaccine mandates for employees under specific deadlines if the employee shows proof of vaccination to the employer. Without the vaccination, employees run the risk of certain consequences if their vaccination deadline to return to in-person work is not met.
The consequences of not receiving the vaccine could vary by company, but most companies, potentially including Merck, may terminate employees for disregarding the vaccination requirements set in place by Merck.
CNN had revealed that three unvaccinated employees were fired on August 12th, after violating the company’s vaccine requirements for in-person workers, according to an internal memo from Jeff Zucker.
Of course, CNN is not the only company setting consequences for employees due to violations of the company’s requirements. Merck could require that employees be vaccinated against COVID-19, which includes management positions under different deadlines. Although the consequences vary by company, most companies fall under the premise of removing employees from their positions within the company.
Included in these consequences could be a loss of vital health or retirement benefits, a lack of severance packages, or becoming ineligible to be rehired.
If an employee is fired from Merck due to the violation of the company’s requirements, however, employees could potentially not receive their unemployment benefits.
“Typically, an employee who is terminated for failing to comply with company policies is not eligible for unemployment benefits, which would include refusing to comply with a company’s COVID-19 prevention policies, masking requirements or vaccine requirements,” said Alana Ackels, a labor and employment lawyer in an interview with MarketWatch.
This could mean that many at Merck could face the risk of losing unemployment benefits if failing to comply with company policies for vaccine requirements. Employees however who provide proof of medical or religious objections may still receive unemployment benefits if terminated from their position.
Each unemployment case is always viewed individually, on a case-by-case basis for each company.
“However, a violation of an employer’s policy is not always a disqualifying circumstance,” said Marina Gelpi Clay, press secretary at the Louisiana Workforce Commission in an interview with MarketWatch. “We review the facts and circumstances of each case before making a determination of eligibility.”
Buchwald, Elisabeth. “If Your Employer Fires You Because You Won’t Get the COVID Vaccine, Don’t Expect to Collect Unemployment - MarketWatch.” MarketWatch, MarketWatch, 6 Aug. 2021, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/dont-expect-unemployment-benefits-if-you-dont-comply-with-your-employers-vaccine-requirement-11628287814.
Grynbaum, Michael M. “CNN Fires Three Employees Who Went Into Office Unvaccinated - The New York Times.” The New York Times - Breaking News, US News, World News and Videos, 5 Aug. 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/05/business/media/cnn-vaccine-mandate.html.
Iacurci, Greg. “Fired for Refusing a Covid Vaccine? You Likely Can’t Get Unemployment Benefits.” CNBC, CNBC, 7 Oct. 2021, https://www.cnbc.com/2021/10/07/fired-for-refusing-a-covid-vaccine-you-likely-cant-get-unemployment-benefits.html.