As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues, and the rate of newly recorded infections is starting to decline, many California counties are moving to less restrictive tiers and lifting restrictions applicable to the business environment. A hot topic for many employers has been developing COVID-19 protocols and vaccine requirements for employees returning to corporate office buildings. (See “Can a Healthcare Provider Require Employees to Take a COVID-19 Vaccine?” for protocol guidelines.) Some healthcare businesses that utilize both traditional office space and medical office buildings are developing and incorporating COVID-19 protocols into their rules and regulations applicable to each site. For businesses who lease their work sites, however, as a tenant, do they have the right to enforce their new internal protocols and vaccine requirements on their landlords and vendors as a condition for entry into their leased premises?
Commercial lease agreements, including medical office building lease agreements, contain terms and provisions that have been negotiated between the landlord and tenant and as a result can be fact-specific. The rights available to a particular tenant with respect to enforcing COVID-19 protocols and vaccine requirements for entry into their leased premises will depend upon the terms of that lease. Given the specificity of the issues, if a healthcare tenant is contemplating whether to enforce any COVID-19 protocols or vaccine requirements on any party entering their leased premises, then we recommend consulting with a real estate attorney.
Each lease and tenancy should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, however there are a few common issues that a tenant must consider when contemplating the right of enforcement of COVID-19 protocols and vaccine requirements:
As California counties continue to lift COVID-19 workplace restrictions on businesses, employers will need to ensure they implement policies to protect the health of their workforce. Most employers have been focusing these efforts on regulating employee activities. However, by reviewing the terms of their lease, they may find that they can offer a greater level of protection to their employees.
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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.
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