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Goldman Sachs asking returning workers to say if they've been vaccinated

Companies allowed to require COVID vaccines
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Goldman Sachs is requiring that bankers and other employees tell the financial firm whether they are vaccinated before returning to the office.

The investment bank has started bringing some of its 20,000 U.S.-based employees back, with most workers expected to return by June 14. Employees who had not yet submitted their vaccination status received a memo earlier this week explaining that "registering your vaccination status allows us to plan for a safer return to the office for all of our people as we continue to abide by local public health measures."

The memo said it is "mandatory" that workers indicate if they've gotten their shots via a company app by noon on June 10.

Notably, Goldman's policy for returning office workers doesn't require them to present their vaccination record cards to prove their status. Rather, the bank is effectively asking employees to certify that they were vaccinated by indicating the dates they were vaccinated and the vaccine maker — information included on the card.

"The middle ground option that we've seen many employers to take is to ask for written acknowledgement that the employee is vaccinated," said Kaiser Chowdry, an employment attorney at Morgan Lewis, a global law firm. "So you don't ask to see the card, but you explain the policy and have them attest that they will follow the policy."

For employers, a more conservative approach would be to require workers to provide proof of vaccination, like a copy of the vaccination card issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The most lenient approach would be to rely on a "pure honor system," Chowdry said. "Communicate any policy changes and then tell everyone to follow it. But that carries the most risk, and we're seeing fewer employers take that option."

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Under U.S. employment rules, companies are permitted to require workers to get vaccinated before returning to the office. Employers may also legally bar unvaccinated employees from the workplace so long as they accommodate reasonable accommodations for employees who are exempt from mandatory immunization under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. 

The bank isn't requiring employees to get inoculated against COVID-19, but is strongly encouraging vaccination among its workers, according to the internal memo. 

"While we strongly encourage you to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, we understand that the choice to get vaccinated is a personal one," continued the memo, which was obtained by CBS MoneyWatch. 

Goldman has also said that fully vaccinated employees in states that have dropped mask mandates may go maskless on company premises. Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated employees must continue to wear masks except while at their desks.  

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