Surveying 1,630 employers across industries in the United States (US), results of Littler’s COVID-19 Vaccine Employer Survey Report: Delta Variant Update reveal that while most employers are still encouraging - rather than requiring - vaccination, the data gathered by Littler shows an increased openness to mandates as infections and transmission rates continue to rise in the US.
Littler also found that employers are shifting their policies to incentivise vaccinations, return-to-office timing, and mask-wearing, among other issues. Many updated their plans earlier in the summer, anticipating the return to normal business operations.
COVID-19 Vaccinaiton Plans
From the survey, it was found that the majority of employers (63%) are encouraging - but not requiring - vaccination. However, as the cases of the delta variant continue to rise in the US as well as the universal accessibility of vaccines for US adults, this views may shift. 46% of respondents said that they are more strongly considering a vaccine mandate in light of the recent rise in COVID cases, while only 22% said they have firmly decided not to institute a mandate.
This shift is also echoed in the comparison of Litter’s previous survey conducted in January. At the time less than 1% were mandating vaccinations, with 9% planning to in some form. Today, the percentage has more than doubled to 21%. 5% require vaccines for workers, 8% are planning to require workers to be fully vaccinated, and another 8% are currently or planning to mandate vaccines for specific subsets or individuals.
“There is no one-size-fits-all approach to setting workplace vaccination policies. Employers need to gather the type of information that would guide any employment-related decision, including determining the number of workers who already have been vaccinated, understanding workforce sentiment, addressing and removing obstacles to vaccination, evaluating industry trends, and accounting for public safety and health policies and infection rates in their particular geographies,” said Devjani Mishra, Shareholder at Littler.
Concerns with Vaccine Mandates
While employer views and approaches to vaccine mandates have evolved, primary concerns haven’t. Top concerns when it comes to mandates include resistance from employees who are not in a protected category but refuse to be vaccinated (7%) and the impact of a mandate on company culture and employee morale (68%).
Other concerns include keeping employees happy in tight labour markets. 60% fear loss of start and difficulty operating due to termination or resignation of employees who don’t want to be vaccinated.
The Manufacturing Industry and COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates
Despite more employers in the manufacturing industry are offering vaccines on-site (47%), and offering cash awards (22%), fewer employers (8%) are requiring vaccines or planning to. When asked about their concerns, resistance from employees (81%), the impact on culture and morale (78%), and the loos of staff (71%) were reported as top concerns.
“The reality is that most U.S. workforces are not fully vaccinated, which leads to questions about whether and how to implement separate safety protocols for two different groups. Doing so, however, will require employers to develop a reliable and practical way of distinguishing between those who are vaccinated and not – without stigmatizing those who are unable to obtain the vaccine for legally protected reasons. If there’s one lesson here, it’s that, especially given the recent resurgence in cases, risk assessments in a pandemic are anything but static, and must be continually updated,” said Barry Hartstein, Shareholder, Littler.
To read the full report, click here