On October 29, 2021, HF 902 COVID vaccination exemptions for employers and unemployment insurance was signed into law by Governor Reynolds.  The law, which went into effect October 29, 2021, establishes exemptions under state law from employer-required COVID vaccinations for employees and applicants. The law requires the employee to submit a statement that a vaccination would be injurious to their health or that the vaccination is against the employee’s religious beliefs. The law grants employee’s who are fired for refusing to get a vaccination unemployment benefits. The law prohibits the charging or penalizing of any employers who employed the person before the employer who fired the person for the costs of the unemployment benefits.
More specifically, the law:
- requires any individual, corporation, limited liability company, government or governmental subdivision or agency, business trust, estate, trust, partnership or association, or any other legal entity that employs or consider applicants for wages that require a COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment, to waive the requirement if they receive from them
- a statement that receiving the vaccine would be injurious to their health and well-being or that of an individual residing with them or
- a statement that receiving the vaccine would conflict with tenets and practices of their religion.
- adds into Iowa’s Employment Security Law that individuals discharged from employment for refusing to receive a vaccination against the novel coronavirus identified as SARS-CoV-2, or disease or virus caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 shall not be disqualified for unemployment benefits because of the discharge.
- modifies the employer unemployment benefits account formula if an employee is discharged from employment for refusing to receive a vaccination against the novel coronavirus identified as SARS-CoV-2, or disease or virus caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, so that the contribution rate and unemployment experience of any current or previous employers employing the employee are unaffected by the discharge and prohibits Iowa Workforce Development from imposing any penalty on, or any other action against, any employer employing the employee or an employer that previously employed the employee other than the employer that so discharged the employee.
 The Iowa House passed the bill on Iowa’s October 28, 2021, special session on a 68-27 vote. The Iowa Senate passed the bill on a 45-4 vote.