A March survey by insurance firm Willis Towers Watson found that 23 percent of American companies were planning or considering making coronavirus vaccinations mandatory for employees who want to return to the workplace. One in 10 companies was considering making full vaccination a condition of continued employment.
A different survey from the Arizona State University and the Rockefeller Foundation showed even higher numbers. According to the survey, nearly two-thirds of employers in North America are planning to offer incentives for employees to get vaccinated. Eighty-seven percent of companies are willing to offer on-site vaccinations. If this doesn't work, 44 percent said they will make vaccinations mandatory. Only 31 percent said they would strongly encourage vaccinations but would not make it a condition of employment.
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) held a similar survey and found that 60 percent of respondents would not mandate vaccinations. But among that 60 percent, three-quarters said they strongly recommend the vaccines.
Industry sectors that are more likely to mandate vaccinations include healthcare and academia. According to Amber Clayton, director of the SHRM Knowledge Center, industries that require people to work in close proximity to one another or regularly interact with the public might also be more likely to consider vaccine mandates. These include restaurants, retail and travel.
Small businesses, on the other hand, are less likely to require vaccinations. Experts believe this is because they have fewer resources to fight potential lawsuits, and upper management and rank-and-file workers have better relationships. A survey by the National Federation of Independent Business found that less than half of businesses would encourage vaccinations and only three percent would require it.
Clayton said companies might drop or enforce their vaccine mandate plans depending on whether or not these will help or hurt their recruitment efforts.
"There could be some challenges with recruitment and retaining employees," said Clayton.
Whether mandating vaccines will attract or alienate potential employees varies based on job and location. Another survey by SHRM found that slightly over half of American workers would support the companies they work for if they require employees to get vaccinated.
Some companies are already pushing through with their vaccine mandates.
Mondelez International Inc., the maker of Trident gum and Ritz Crackers, will start reopening its corporate offices to fully vaccinated workers this summer. The New York Stock Exchange is reopening itself to traders who can prove they have completed their vaccinations.
Other companies have already begun offering incentives.
Whirlpool Corporation, a Michigan-based home appliance maker employing over 27,000 people, is offering $200 to workers who can prove they are fully vaccinated. CVS Health is offering on-site vaccinations. It is also working with more than a dozen companies to vaccinate their workforces, including Delta Air Lines. CVS Health has reportedly administered more than 30,000 doses to Delta employees at on-site clinics.
Some states are working hard to protect the rights of workers. (Related: New Mexico detention facility files lawsuit against county over coronavirus vaccine mandate.)
In Montana, the state legislature passed a bill preventing employers from requiring their workers to be fully vaccinated. The Senate voted 31 to 19 along partisan lines to support the changes proposed by Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte to House Bill 702 (HB 702).
Gianforte earlier issued an amendatory veto to HB 702 to allow nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other long-term care centers to mandate vaccines for their workers if not doing so would put them out of compliance with federal regulations governing Medicare and Medicaid.
Additionally, the new law prevents private businesses in Montana – including hospitals – from requiring that employees be vaccinated, including against other diseases like measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox and diphtheria.
In North Carolina, the Republican-dominated state legislature has filed House Bill 686 (HB 686), which will ban state and local governments from creating vaccine mandates.
Rep. Jake Johnson, a Republican and the bill's main sponsor, said he made the bill because of a complaint he received from a county administration employee who said that their boss "heavily insinuated that if they didn't get it, they wouldn't have a job the next week."
HB 686 also guarantees that unvaccinated individuals cannot be banned from entering government-owned buildings, including those located inside school and university campuses.
The bill passed the House's State Government Committee on Wednesday, May 5. It will be passed to the House Health Committee before it gets a floor vote.
Other vaccine-related bills are being considered in North Carolina's legislature. One proposed bill would ban all private employers in the state from requiring their employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Another would prevent schools from creating similar requirements for students while at the same time banning them from forcing students to join a "vaccine tracking system." As of press time, neither of these bills have been scheduled for a committee hearing.
Because Montana's executive and legislative branches are dominated by Republicans, HB 702 will most likely pass in the state. But North Carolina has a Democratic governor, and it is possible that he will use his veto power to prevent the passage of anti-vaccine mandate legislation.
Learn more about the vaccine mandates being proposed by corporations and the fight to protect the right of employees to choose by reading the latest articles at Vaccines.news.