Employer Trends on Voluntary and Mandatory Vaccination
With the Delta variant sparking a rise in COVID-19 cases and the resulting uncertainty, many employers are revisiting the question of employee vaccinations. This August, MEA conducted a survey of our members and other companies in the MidAtlantic region to garner insights on whether or not employers are mandating vaccinations in the workplace. The survey received a total of 102 responses.
Question 1: Are you requiring employees to be vaccinated?
The answer to this question was overwhelmingly no with 84% of respondents choosing this option. This is most likely because many employers are highly recommending or encouraging the vaccine rather than mandating it. In the comment section, some respondents explained that their organizations are still working remotely so they have not needed to mandate vaccinations yet. However, respondents did reveal that they are considering requiring vaccinations once they have returned to the physical workplace. For the time being, many have a voluntary vaccination policy in place.
Based on these comments, we can see that we are still in a very transitory period of time. Many employers are still requiring unvaccinated employees to wear masks in the workplace. However, we also see that most employers are not requiring vaccinations or are postponing the decision to require vaccinations.
Question 2: If you are not requiring the vaccine, what restrictions or safety practices are you implementing?
The biggest segment of respondents (46 respondents) replied that they are requiring unvaccinated employees to wear masks in the workplace. As of July 27th, the CDC is now recommending everyone – both vaccinated and unvaccinated – wear masks indoors. As a result, many businesses are asking their employees to wear masks again. In the comment section, one employer explains that they have a vaccination percentage goal. Once reached, employees can stop wearing masks. Some other companies are making masks optional with encouragement. Many are also looking to the CDC and state guidance to tailor their workplace restrictions.
Interestingly, 31 respondents have no restrictions in place and seem to be completely back to the “post-COVID-19 normal.” Eight organizations are still enacting social distancing, while three employers have their unvaccinated employees working remotely.
These results suggest that much remains up in the air when it comes to employer-mandated vaccinations. Most organizations are not requiring the vaccine, but some are thinking about implementing a vaccine mandate when everyone returns to the workplace full-time. Even employers who are not requiring vaccination are, for the most part, highly encouraging their employees to get vaccinated and are enacting social distancing or other safety protocols.
With the current rise of COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant, and the resulting uncertainty, organizations are continuously reviewing their pandemic-related policies and precautions. This survey provides a snapshot in time of what is trending in our member organizations when it comes to vaccine mandates and other safety protocols. Continue to take guidance from the CDC and your state legislation to keep your organization safe and compliant. Because this topic is ever-changing, we will resend this survey in the coming weeks to see what changes organizations have made.