Five states have enacted legislation to provide unemployment benefits to persons who refuse to comply with COVID-19 vaccine mandates imposed by their employers. Tennessee, Florida, Arkansas, Iowa, and Kansas are the states that have expanded benefits in this way so far.
The legislative response in these states has been to increase pressure put on private companies to mandate vaccines by the Biden Administration. The White House continues its public relations campaign to have employers voluntarily impose a jab requirement for workers as it sees the government-imposed mandates struggle in various federal courts.
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear oral arguments on the cases involving Biden’s mandate on private healthcare workers and all private companies with 100 or more employees on January 7. Biden himself admitted on Monday that there is “no federal solution” to the pandemic while asking state and local governments to take action where he cannot.
Florida’s move to expand unemployment to persons out of work because of a mandate was part of its new law banning vaccine mandates. Republican Governor Ron DeSantis said that nobody should lose their job because of a mandate and added that the state is responsible for protecting those persons’ livelihoods.
Tennessee has extended benefits to unvaccinated workers as part of a recent law prohibiting vaccine mandates or passports in state agencies, schools, and private companies.
In October, Iowa’s new law was passed and required religious and medical exemptions to any mandates. Minors are also explicitly excluded from being subject to any mandate. It says that no person can be disqualified from unemployment benefits eligibility because of their vaccination status.
Additionally, Missouri and Wyoming are currently considering similar legislation to ensure anyone fired over a vaccine mandate will be eligible for ordinary unemployment.
Republican Missouri Governor Mike Parson said he believes his state wants to protect civil rights and civil liberties. He added that he wants to ensure that individual religious conviction is upheld, “whatever that takes.”