BBB Business Tips: Requiring Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination from Customers
It's a question on every business owner's mind: To require vaccinations or not? Better Business Bureau Serving Greater Cleveland recommends the following tips to help you develop and implement a plan.
With quick changes to operations, supply and labor shortages, and general increases to the costs of running a business, the pandemic continues to keep business owners on their toes. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention guidance and federal mandates are constantly shifting as the pandemic evolves, and while vaccination rates are on the rise, dangerous variants mean we’re not out of the woods just yet. Amidst these obstacles and general anxieties that many are experiencing, business owners have said in a BBB study that enhancing trust in their customer base is a new challenge. The next obstacle many businesses are facing: whether they should require proof of vaccination from their employees and customers.
Currently, the federal government has decided against a unified vaccine passport program or requirement, which means you might be thinking of how and if you should verify/require your customers’ vaccination claims. It’s important to think ahead when planning your vaccine policy, no matter how you decide to navigate this phase of the pandemic. You may decide on an honor system, where you simply ask the person if they are fully vaccinated or you may ask to see the person’s CDC vaccination card for more concrete proof.
Before getting started, you may want to consult with your legal counsel. Since local and federal government guidelines and recommendations are constantly changing, it is wise to speak with your legal team before implementing any vaccination mandates. This not only will ensure you make the best decisions to protect the health of your employees and staff, it will make sure you are not violating anyone's rights.
Better Business Bureau Serving Greater Cleveland recommends the following tips to help you develop and implement a plan.
● Clearly communicate your policies. Once you determine your company policy, make it known to your employees and customers. By communicating a clear and consistent message, it will help everyone understand your company's expectations. Communicate these policies by posting signs throughout your business’s physical space, as well as digitally on your website and social media platforms. Communicating with your customers also helps build trust, with 42% of businesses in a BBB study saying increasing their communication efforts was the most significant way they were growing trust within their customer base.
● Give employees extra training. As part of the communication process, provide training to your employees to deal with customers. Training may include how to respectfully communicate the company's vaccination policies, how to help customers comply, and alternatives for those who may choose not to show proof or are unable to be vaccinated. Employees should also understand how to handle potentially violent situations, especially if you live in a community where attitudes towards the vaccine are not favorable. By providing training, employees will gain consistency and confidence.
RELATED: The importance of training employees during the pandemic.
● Protect your business reputation when requiring proof of vaccination from customers. To avoid accusations of discriminatory practices, it is wise to offer alternative options for customers who cannot or who have chosen not to be vaccinated. Consider how you might require proof of vaccination while still honoring your customer and staff’s right to privacy.
You can also consider alternative services for unvaccinated customers or those who are concerned about becoming sick, such as: curbside pick-ups, online sales, local delivery, and outdoor dining areas.
● Learn to spot fake vaccine cards. From phony websites that try to get your personal information to fake COVID contact tracing scams, and even fake Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) phishing emails, there has been a rise in scams throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Fake vaccine cards are no different. As we see a rise in phony vaccine cards, learn to recognize the tell-tale signs that can help you and your employees spot them.
RELATED: Tips for dealing with aggressive customers.
When checking a vaccine card make sure all the information is filled out and the vaccination dates align with the timing each vaccine became CDC approved. For those who received a two-dose vaccine with a few weeks between each dose, it makes sense that there should be two sets of handwriting on the card. Both fields filled out in the same handwriting could be a red flag. Third, watch out for fully printed cards since most care providers fill out the information by hand.
If you spot a scam, report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker.
For more tips and resources visit BBB.org/cleveland to help keep your small business thriving. Contact your Better Business Bureau by calling 216.241.7678 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Interested in BBB Accreditation? Find out how you can apply for Accreditation.