Five states have moved to expand unemployment benefits for individuals who have lost their jobs as a result of their decision not to get a COVID-19 vaccination.
Tennessee, Florida, Iowa, Arkansas, and Kansas have passed legislation to extend unemployment benefits to individuals who choose not to submit to vaccine mandates by their employer.
The decision to expand unemployment benefits by several states comes because of increasing pressures from the Biden administration requiring employers to mandate employee vaccination. The Biden administration continues to advocate for its mandate even though the president admitted Monday that "there is no federal solution" to ending the coronavirus pandemic as he called on state governments to do more to fight the Omicron variant during a briefing with the National Governors Association.
Florida expanded unemployment benefits to the unvaccinated as part of the bill that banned vaccine mandates in the state.
"Nobody should lose their job due to heavy-handed COVID mandates, and we had a responsibility to protect the livelihoods of the people of Florida," Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said in a statement, according to Business Insider.
Tennessee extended unemployment benefits to the unvaccinated as part of a recent bill that bans governmental agencies in the state from requiring employees to be vaccinated and bans schools and private employers from requiring that individuals show proof of vaccination.
State legislators in Iowa passed House File 902 during the special session in October. The bill aims to ease the economic suffering of employees who have been subjected to COVID-19 vaccine mandates by their employers. The legislation ensures that employers would allow their employees to be exempt from a companywide mandate if the employee is a minor, provides a religious exemption, or a personal statement that receiving the vaccine would endanger the health of the employee as opposed to being required to provide a written statement from the doctor or other medical professional. The bill also states that an individual cannot be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits due to refusing to be vaccinated.
Missouri and Wyoming are considering joining the five other states in passing similar legislation to provide unemployment to individuals who have been fired for refusing the vaccine.
Gov. Mike Parson (R) of Missouri said that his state is currently considering legislation similar to the bill passed in Iowa in an effort to protect an individual's civil rights.
“I think we want to make sure civil rights or civil liberties are being exercised. If somebody has religious conviction, we want to make sure that's upheld — whatever that takes. And if it's for health reasons, we want to include that, too," Parson said according to the Center Square.