The recent approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine opens up avenues for companies to impose heavier penalties for unvaccinated workers. Surprisingly, many American workers are supportive of harsher measures.
Heavier Penalties For Unvaccinated Employees
Human Resources consulting firm Eagle Hill conducted a recent survey. They released the results of the poll Tuesday. 41% of surveyed workers agreed that unvaccinated employees should pay higher insurance rates. Also, 66% said that the office shouldn't allow unvaccinated workers to work from home.
Meanwhile, Littler Mendelson PC conducted a separate poll for employers. It said that the number of firms that favored vaccine mandates doubled since January. Many companies are having difficulty finalizing plans on returning to the office.
The resurgence of the COVID delta variant disrupted plans for business reopening. Instead, many firms are now issuing vaccine mandates. This means employees need to complete their vaccination soon. Access to the office will require proof of vaccination.
How Do You Increase The Vaccination Rate?
Facebook, Citigroup, and Walt Disney Co are among those with vaccine mandates. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden called on more companies to impose similar requirements. He hoped that Pfizer’s full approval status could legitimize vaccine mandates. However, many Americans remain hesitant to secure a vaccine.
Wade Symons works as the leader of the regulatory resources group at HR consultant Mercer. He said that “We have reached the point where employers might be at 80% vaccinated, but it’s just not moving higher. So how do we get that number higher?”
Positive Reinforcement To Get Workers To Vaccinate
Previously, many employers offered incentives to get workers to take their vaccines. Grocery chain Kroger offered its employees $100 just to get a vaccine shot. These incentives hoped to provide employees enough push to get vaccines without companies resorting to mandates.
The latter option might lead to lower morale and resignations. In a tight labor market like today, losing employees can lead to devastating results. Sadly, “giving people money to get the vaccine does not work as well as companies would like,” said Brian Kropp, chief of human-resources research at Gartner.
However, the full approval of the vaccine turned the tables to the other side. Employers now looking to apply the heavier penalties given to smokers. Among these measures include adding premiums to health care contributions.
Others suggested denying unvaccinated workers access to certain perks. This includes receiving free coffee or access to fitness rooms and common areas. Some employers are also rearranging office layouts. This aims to physically separate the vaccinated from the unvaccinated.
Symons said that the increased healthcare premiums might convince some vaccine hardliners to give in. “It might move the needle if employees know that if they are not vaccinated, it will come out of their paycheck.”
Labor laws find it legal for companies to charge an additional premium on monthly healthcare dues. However, management should protect employees who cannot take vaccines due to disability or religious beliefs.
Even with the potential hurdles, many firms are strongly looking to apply heavier penalties to unvaccinated workers. Per the survey, 25% of companies with 500 or more workers already do so for workers who smoke.
Refusal to Cover Medical Costs Related to COVID-19
In extreme cases, companies can also resort to refusing coverage for some or all medical costs related to COVID-19. However, this might need some careful studying. Doing so can affect those with pre-existing conditions or religious objections.
In addition, it can also send the wrong message to the rest of the staff. Symons said that employees might start questioning if employers have their back.
Watch the CNN video featuring host Michael Smerconish: Don't punish the vaccinated:
Do you agree that employers should impose heavier penalties for workers who continue to refuse vaccinations? Do you think their refusal warrants more sanctions?
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