Who: Alabama employers and employees
When: Effective immediately
What: On November 5thth, 2021, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed SB9 into law, an act that bans employers from requiring vaccination as a condition of employment. Per the new act, employers with vaccine mandates are required to allow employees to submit an exemption form in lieu of receiving vaccination against COVID-19, citing medical reasons or sincerely held religious beliefs. The law expires on May 1, 2023.
Alabama employers are required to make exemption forms readily available to all employees along with directions for submitting the forms. The exemption form includes various exemptions that go beyond the federal religious and medical exemptions.
The specific medical exemptions for employees outlined in SB9 are as follows:
- The employee’s health care provider has recommended that the employee refuse a COVID-19 vaccination based on current health conditions.
- The employee has, in the past, suffered severe allergic reactions to the components of the COVID-19 vaccine.
- The employee has received antibodies or plasma as part of a COVID-19 treatment within the past 90 days.
- The employee has a bleeding disorder and is taking a blood thinner.
- The employee is immunocompromised such that receiving the COVID-19 vaccine would create a health risk.
- The employee has been diagnosed with COVID-19 within the past 12 days.
The Alabama Department of Labor has published Vaccination Exemption Guide Chapter 480-9-1-ER is to provide directions and resources for employees whose exemptions have been denied by their employer. The Alabama DOL has also launched a website including exemption forms, resources for employees, as well as an online portal to upload relevant documents.
Per the new law, employees who are terminated after refusing a vaccine mandate are allowed up to 7 days to file an appeal with the Alabama Department of Labor. Following the appeal, an administrative judge appointed by the Alabama Secretary of Labor will make a ruling within 30 days.
If the judge upholds the employer’s decision, the employee is allowed an additional 14 days to file an appeal with a court of competent jurisdiction.
Employers are required to fully compensate the employee during the 7-day period after the initial denial, as well as during the appeal process until an administrative judge or court issues a ruling within the employer’s favor.
- Review your current policies and procedures and update them to comply with the new bill.
- Educate and inform your employees about state mandates and safety protocols.
- Familiarize yourself with federal vaccine mandates and OSHA standards for potential conflicts with this new law.
Vaccination Exemption Guide Chapter 480-9-1-ER
Alabama Vaccination Exemption Information Portal
Instructions to Claim a COVID-19 Vaccine Exemption
State of Alabama Vaccination Exemption Claim Form