Supporters of legislation banning private businesses in New Hampshire from requiring vaccines for their employees often predict massive job losses from those mandates. But according to state officials, just over 1oo workers in the state have applied for unemployment benefits over a vaccination mandate job loss.
That is out of more than 725,000 employed residents, according to New Hampshire Employment Security.
New Hampshire workers who lose or quit their jobs over a COVID-19 vaccine mandate are generally not eligible for unemployment benefits, according to Commissioner of New Hampshire Employment Security George Copadis. And the total number of Granite Staters who have lost their jobs because they refused a vaccine is not known, in part because the state does not keep those records, Copadis said.
“While employers are required to report employment levels to the department on a quarterly basis, they are not required to provide the department with the reason for separation for each employee. The department only finds out the reason why someone separates from employment in those instances when they file a claim for unemployment benefits.”
If the employee who quit or was fired over the vaccine found a new job right away, they might not have filed for unemployment. Since last September, 110 New Hampshire workers have filed for unemployment citing the vaccine mandate, he said. About 40 have been able to get unemployment benefits.
“While each claim is analyzed on its own individual merits according to state law and rule, about 70 percent of the claims filed by people after having been fired or quit employment as a result of a vaccine mandate have been denied unemployment benefits,” Copadis said.
Gov. Chris Sununu’s administration is fighting President Joe Biden’s federal vaccine mandate in court, though some large employers like Dartmouth-Hitchcock-Health have enacted their own vaccine requirements for employees.
A bill to ban New Hampshire businesses from requiring workers to get vaccinated was tabled by the House of Representatives on Thursday.
Under the rules guiding the state, if people quit or are fired for refusing the vaccine, and the employer’s mandate seems reasonable, then the employees would not qualify for unemployment benefits. For example, the state considered vaccine requirements for health care facilities to be reasonable. For other employers, steps need to be taken to allow an unvaccinated employee to continue working, such as a mask requirement and regular COVID-19 testing in place of the vaccine.
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health, the state’s largest medical service provider, instituted a vaccine mandate last fall and reported 99 percent compliance. Asked Thursday, Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s Media Relations Manager Audra Burns did get into specifics.
“We are not publicly disclosing specific numbers of vaccinations, exemptions, or those that chose to leave,” Burns said.
Though New Hampshire does lag other states in terms of people being fully vaccinated, according to the CDC, as of Nov. 10, 89.8 percent of New Hampshire’s population age 12 and older has received at least one shot.
With one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation, 2.7 percent, New Hampshire does not seem to be suffering from mandate-driven unemployment. In fact, many employers say the real crisis is the inability to find workers.