Number of the day: employer vaccine mandates

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In a survey of 763 employers conducted just before the Supreme Court ruling on President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for employers, more than a third of organizations said they are requiring employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. (That number is higher for employers that require vaccination for onsite work, at 37%.) Another 18% said they planned to implement a vaccine mandate or were considering doing so, according to the just-released survey from the research firm Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp).

What it means for HR leaders

Vaccine requirements have been ticking upward in recent months, data finds. But scores of employers have been in wait-and-see mode on vaccines as they awaited the decision from the Supreme Court on mandates.

Related: 7 takeaways from the Supreme Court vaccine mandate ruling

With the Supreme Court blocking the Biden administration’s mandate that employers with 100 or more employees implement a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for their workers and offer a weekly testing alternative for those who refuse or are unable to receive a vaccine—plans are up in the air and time will tell what employers decide now that the ruling is here.
While some employers certainly now will not enforce such mandates—with concerns about employees walking out the door mounting during the Great Resignation—some experts predict surging Omicron infections will spur more employer action, despite the ruling.

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“Many employers had already put mandates in place, and we believe many will continue to do so where permitted,” says Dr. Jeff Levin-Scherz, population health leader at consulting firm Willis Towers Watson.

Related: Is your talent really walking out the door to avoid a COVID vaccine?

An important thing to note, experts say: The health threats posed by COVID-19 are still in full force—driving more employer action. “Medical experts advise that they won’t go away unless higher numbers of people are vaccinated,” says Carol Morrison, senior research analyst at i4cp. “Ongoing surges and variants make that clear, and employers still must address very practical safety concerns in company workplaces, whether or not they choose to require employee vaccinations.”

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Kathryn Mayer
Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s former 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.