Mandatory Vaccines (or Not)

The current question that crosses my desk almost daily is “Can I require my employees to be vaccinated?”

The short answer is, “yes.”

The long answer is “it depends.”

The impact of COVID on our lives and future is still evolving.  How our nation, large businesses, small businesses, nonprofits, and individuals respond to the ever-changing environment will continue to change over time.

Here is my 4-point checklist of considerations when making rules, policies, or requirements for employees or the public:

(1) Be flexible – The answer is rarely black-and-white and you will always find an exception to your rule.  Don’t make policies or rules that paint yourself into a box.

(2) Don’t be afraid to change your mind as information changes.  We know a lot more today than we did a year ago.  Imagine how much more we will know next year?  New information can support changes, and you should be prepared to change to benefit your employees, your customers, and yourself.

(3) Consider the unintended consequences of your choices.  You may lose employees (or customers) because of your decisions.  You have to assume that your world, your employee base, and your ability to run your business will not return to pre-2020 levels.  Can you afford those potential losses?  Which is worse – the consequences of the change, or the failure to change?

(4)  Consider the reaction (and feelings) of the people who are affected by your decision.  While you may need to make an unpopular decision or enforce an unpopular policy, it is important to manage the human response to those decisions.  Use a carrot whenever possible, and try to limit the use of a stick.

For two excellent articles regarding vaccine mandates and employees, check out Blue Avocado:

We Can Require Employees to Receive the COVID 19 Vaccine – But Should We?

How do I Navigate Requests for Religious Exemptions from a Requirement to Receive the COVID 19 Vaccine?


Keeping Track of Details on a Nonprofit Board

The Execupundit has a great suggestion to help boards keep track of official action over time.  He notes (and I echo his experience) that Boards often do not remember official action previously taken – particularly if time has passed.

While it is every Board Member’s duty to be aware of the action taken at all Board meetings, we humans live “in the moment” and are not wired to stop and think about whether an issue has been previously addressed.  In my experience as an attorney who advises nonprofit (and other) boards, I have witnessed more than one occasion where a Board will take action directly opposite to action taken only a few meetings previously, for the simple reason that no one remembers.

Enter the Board Historian, as recommended by the Execupundit.  This person’s duties include keeping track of all official actions of the Board, and being ready, willing, and able to remind the Board of previous action taken.

I have worked with Boards that try to address the issue of “remembering official action” by keeping a running summary of all official board action, including the date, the action taken, and whether there were any dissenting votes.  This is a good idea for use by the Board Historian.

The duties of a Board Historian can be expanded to include matters of Board and Officer dates of office and terms (including when terms expire) as well as a historic list of past officers (and terms of service), as well as the basic history of the organization (when founded, when incorporated, with copies of important documents, such as the Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws (including historic copies), and Exemption documents so that they can be easily accessed if and when needed.

If this sounds a lot like part of the Secretary’s job, you aren’t wrong (Check your bylaws to see whether your definition of the Secretary’s duties include keeping track of historic information).  However, in practice the Secretary duties have been somewhat limited to just taking notes at meetings.   Expanding the role of Secretary to include Historian – or having the Historian as a separate Board Office – is a continuous reminder of the importance of both knowing and remembering official Board Action.

Thanks for the suggestion, Execupundit – terrific idea!

If you don’t read the writings of Michael Wade, The Execupundit, I recommend you add him to your list – he writes thoughtful and intersting posts.  I especially like his “First Paragraph” series and his “Find Something Beautiful Today” series.