Unvaccinated Workers Are Eligible for Unemployment Benefits

Posted by Nailah Herbert in EconomyDecember 13, 2021(Last Updated July 26, 2022)3 min read
Key Takeaways
  • With the vaccine mandate in place, some unvaccinated individuals are being let go from their place of work.
  • As a result, four states, Florida, Iowa, Tennessee, and Kansas have passed bills that have allowed them to ease the restrictions for the unvaccinated when applying for unemployment benefits. 
  • Other states such as New York, Arizona, and Wisconsin, have passed similar bills to ease restrictions in the near future.
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With increased COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron and Delta variants, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended a vaccination mandate to protect workers from the potential chance of receiving COVID-19 by increasing the vaccination rates. As a result, President Joe Biden proposed and signed a vaccine mandate for private companies into law.


President Biden’s Vaccine Mandate


Initially, President Biden signed a bill to mandate that employees be vaccinated if they worked for a private company that had over 100 employees. This mandate was proposed and passed by the United States Senate as it would allow the economy to resume normal activities quicker; however, it has raised some ethical concerns.


Image Credit: BiksuTong / Shutterstock.com


The ethical concern regarding the vaccine mandate is that those who wish to remain unvaccinated are put in a difficult position. The vaccine mandate becoming a part of a company’s policies allows them to let go of unvaccinated people without any repercussions. Furthermore, if an employee is fired for cause, they cannot apply for unemployment benefits. The ethical concern rises from the ultimatum the vaccine mandate poses on workers. 


Although scientists and government officials are promoting the COVID-19 vaccine to remain safe, the decision to do so is optional. 


Over the past months, many unvaccinated workers have been terminated from their jobs. One of the narratives surrounding the mandate was regarding unvaccinated nurses. Many nurses were fired due to refusing to get the vaccine and endangering those in their care. 


Which States are Offering Unemployment Benefits to the Unvaccinated?


When the vaccine mandate was initially introduced and passed by Congress, not all seats in Congress were in favor. As a result, certain states sympathize with those forced to leave or let go of their jobs. Thus, many states have passed bills loosening the guidelines for receiving unemployment benefits. 


Currently, four states have signed bills to make their unemployment benefits easier for the unvaccinated to receive income until they find another job. These four states are Florida, Iowa, Tennessee, and Kansas, but there are more states to follow in similar steps. 


Which States Plan on Following?


Currently, New York, Arizona, and Wisconsin have passed similar legislation to the states mentioned above. However, Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow at The Century Foundation think tank, believes that more states will be following similar procedures next year.


Why Are States Providing Benefits?


Some State Governors and members of Congress have voiced their concerns regarding the implementation of the vaccine mandate. However, as the vaccine mandate is a federal bill, they have no power to remove it.


Although state leaders cannot prevent people from getting laid off due to their vaccination status, they can provide unvaccinated workers with unemployment benefits until they find another job.


How Long Will Unemployment Benefits Last?


It is difficult to determine what will be happening next. However, one thing that is likely to happen is that more states will be loosening their guidelines when applying for unemployment benefits. This move will help those who lose their jobs due to refusing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. 


Although many jobs are now requiring the Covid-19 vaccine, each individual is given the freedom to choose whether or not they will receive it.


Those who received the vaccine may not be affected by these state rulings. However, non-fully vaccinated people that have been let go from their jobs will benefit from these bills and may be able to receive unemployment benefits while they look for another job.


What are your thoughts on the states loosening the unemployment application restrictions? Let us know in the comments below.


Main Image Credit: Shuttertstock.com

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