SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Senate gave an initial OK to a bill that would prohibit most employers from requiring workers to get a COVID-19 vaccination.
SB208 as originally written would ban employers from requiring employees, prospective employees or blood relatives of employees or prospective employees to accept or decline any medical procedure. The bill would make employers that violate the law liable “for any and all injury and damage caused by the employer’s violation.”
But bill sponsor Sen. Mike Kennedy, R-Alpine, introduced a new version Friday that would only prohibit employers from requiring vaccines after members of the public expressed concern the bill would affect drug testing and other workplace requirements.
“Who’s responsible for the health care of the individual? And the fundamental policy question is: Is the employee or the employer responsible for that?” Kennedy said on the Senate floor.
But some lawmakers questioned how the bill could affect Utah businesses that send employees to other states or countries, as well as large companies like Delta that might require flight attendants to get the vaccination.
Under the bill, the only employees who could be required to get vaccinations are those at health care facilities or those in positions within the health care industry in which they face a significant risk of exposure to bodily fluids or communicable disease.
Government employers could require employees to take the vaccine if they are acting in a public health or medical setting and are required to receive a vaccination to perform their duties and responsibilities, according to the bill.
Kennedy promised to continue working with stakeholders to make adjustments to the bill before it reaches final passage.
It passed 17-11 in an early vote, which moves it on to a final vote in the Senate.