Iowa workers fired for refusing COVID vaccine still eligible for unemployment benefits under new bill

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Iowa residents terminated from their jobs for not following an employer’s vaccine mandate can still obtain unemployment benefits under a new regulation signed by Governor Kim Reynolds on Friday. The state legislature handed the bill a day earlier.

“I am proud to sign this bipartisan piece of legislation today,” Reynolds stated in a statement Friday. “This is a major step forward in protecting Iowans’ freedoms and their abilities to make healthcare decisions based on what’s best for themselves and their families. This legislation also gives employees the assurance that they will still receive unemployment benefits despite being fired for standing up for their beliefs.”

Along with making certain unemployment benefits for staff fired for refusing a COVID-19 vaccine, the bill additionally permits Iowa workers to waive a vaccine mandate from their employer if they supply an announcement proving that the vaccine would negatively have an effect on their well being or the well being of somebody who lives with them. If workers within the state submit an announcement proving that the vaccine would go in opposition to their faith, they may obtain a waiver for an employer’s vaccine mandate as properly. 

“As I’ve stated publicly numerous times, I believe the vaccine is the best defense against COVID-19 and we’ve provided Iowans with the information they need to determine what’s best for themselves and their families, but no Iowan should be forced to lose their job or livelihood over the COVID-19 vaccine,” Reynolds stated. 

The Iowa Association of Business and Industry opposed the bill, saying that it “now puts employers at risk of possibly facing federal penalties” and that it’s “counterproductive” to Iowa’s pressing want of a sturdy workforce.

“ABI continues to strongly urge all Iowans to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and rejects this rushed decision by Iowa lawmakers to institute a blanket policy that is counter to an individual employer’s right to decide what works best for their workplace,” the business group stated in an announcement Friday.

In July, the Biden administration rolled out vaccination necessities for staff of the federal authorities and urged personal companies to push for vaccination amongst staff as properly. 

“We know these requirements work,” the White House said, citing companies like Tyson Foods and United Airlines who’ve elevated vaccination numbers amongst their staff after implementing mandates. 

But the governor on Friday stated that the vaccine exemption bill “is only the first step.”

“We will be taking other legal actions against the Biden Administration’s vaccine mandate,” she stated. 

Also on Friday, Iowa joined 9 different states in a federal lawsuit difficult Mr. Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal staff, claiming in a complaint that the requirement is “unlawful.”

“I believe the vaccine is the best defense against COVID-19, but no one should be forced to choose between making a living or standing up for their personal beliefs,” Reynolds stated in a statement. “As long as I am governor, the State of Iowa will always stand alongside Iowans and to be sure their freedoms are protected.”

Tori B. Powell

Tori B. Powell is a breaking information reporter at CBS News. Reach her at [email protected]