Benefits news you may have missed: Oct. 25-29

From EEOC guidance on religious exemptions to employers with vaccine mandates losing workers, here are some of the week’s top stories.
By: | October 29, 2021

Is the talent flight risk concern overblown for vaccine mandates? While some employers have stepped up significantly on COVID-19 vaccine mandates in recent weeks, many others have stayed the course by encouraging vaccination or incentivizing workers to get them. One of the main reasons employers largely haven’t required employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19, even if they wanted to, is fear over losing employees. But research has shown that turnover hasn’t been anywhere near as bad as some predicted it could be. Read more here.

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During COVID-19, employers also have their eyes on flu shots: The 2020 flu season was much milder than in years past, thanks to widespread mask-wearing, safety precautions, social distancing, isolation and more necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. But this year, as more people get back to socializing, attending events and traveling, and as more workplaces open up—combined with less population-level immunity to the flu—health experts predict a more severe flu season. The expected harsher season—in tandem with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic—is making flu vaccination essential, experts say. Read more here.

6 takeaways from EEOC guidance on religious vaccine exemptions: Employers are still awaiting the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidance on President Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for private companies—but they did receive more information this week on how to handle religious exemptions to COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Read more here.

Why Amazon’s HR tech crisis could happen to your company too: The New York Times’ recent exposé of retail giant Amazon’s HR technology failures in delivering benefits and payroll to a portion of its full-time employees—some on paid parental leave were marked absent from work, pay was not delivered to others for months at a time and disability benefits were withheld from others, leaving employees struggling to pay their bills—highlights the weaknesses of an overly complex technology landscape and an overtaxed HR sector. Read more here.

Legal experts: Don’t delay in prepping for Biden vaccine mandate: As employers await final guidance on how to follow federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates and accommodate exemptions, experts advise leaders to put their strategies and tools in place now to be ahead of the game. Read more here.

Company leaders suffering from burnout: Pandemic-driven burnout has now been plaguing employers, and specifically HR leaders, for more than a year-and-a-half—prompting new strategies like collective time off, enhanced wellness offerings and policies to better promote work/life balance. While the wellbeing of rank-and-file employees has been the focus of this work, they are not the only ones suffering, according to a new report from leadership development provider ExecOnline. Read more here.

Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver. She can be reached at kmayer@lrp.com.

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