On November 16, 2021, the Utah governor signed a law (SB 2004) which requires employers with one or more employees in Utah to pay for COVID testing and allow exemptions from a COVID vaccine mandate. Additionally, employers are prohibited from keeping a copy of employees’ proof of vaccination unless otherwise required by law.
What Are the Available Exemptions?
Employees may be excused from an employer’s vaccine mandate if the employee or applicant provides a statement that getting the vaccine would:
- Be injurious to their health and wellbeing;
- Conflict with their sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance; or
- Conflict with their sincerely held personal belief.
Are There Any Exceptions?
Employers with 14 or fewer employees do not have to grant a requested exemption for any of the above reasons if they can show their vaccine mandate is related to the applicant or employee’s job duties.
What About Federal Law?
While Utah has its own state OSHA plan, the state’s policy of not being able to maintain copies of an employee’s vaccination status (for employers with 100 or more employees) could be in conflict with the federal OSHA ETS and whether this policy will be allowed to stand for those employers will also be dependent upon whether the federal OSHA ETS survives its current legal challenges as the state plan will need to meet the minimum requirements of the ETS.
Next Steps for Employers
Employers should ensure that those responsible for verifying vaccination status are not making copies or retaining any documents which have been provided as proof. Employers should also consult with their legal counsel on the applicability of the law and their specific situation.