With many employers requiring or strongly recommending that workers be vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning to in-person work, it’s a good time to review employer liability for any side-effects of a vaccination that was required for work.
In the healthcare field, the employer will probably be responsible for workers’ compensation benefits if someone is injured on their way to be vaccinated (for example in a trip and fall or motor vehicle accident) or has an adverse reaction to being vaccinated. Although it’s possible different rules will develop, we expect that healthcare employer liability will be the same regardless of whether vaccination was mandatory or just “encouraged,” and also regardless of whether the employer administered the vaccine or the worker went somewhere else to be vaccinated.
Historically, non-healthcare workers who received optional vaccines from the employer as a sort of “fringe benefit” have not been covered by workers’ compensation. However, this may well change in the COVID-19 situation. It’s very possible that workers whose employer mandates vaccination will be covered by workers’ compensation. This becomes even more likely if the employer administers the vaccine or was deemed an “essential business” during the pandemic.