By the fourth quarter of the year, 52% of U.S. employers could have some type of Covid-19 vaccine requirement in the workplace, advisory firm Willis Towers Watson said Wednesday.
The findings were based on an Aug. 18-25 survey of 961 U.S. employers. Potential vaccine mandates ranged from requiring vaccinations for all workers to limiting the requirement to those who use common areas, WTW said.
Companies surveyed included a range of sizes and types, including in the manufacturing, financial services, and retail industries.
The survey follows Delta Air Lines Inc.'s decision to impose a $200-a-month health plan surcharge on employees who don’t get vaccinated. Following the Food and Drug Administration’s full approval of the Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE vaccine, many companies are expected to move forward with vaccination mandates.
In an interview with Bloomberg Law, Peter Carter, Delta’s chief legal officer, said the number of employees getting vaccinations increased from 11 to 55 in one day following the imposition of the surcharge.
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Over 20% Have Vaccine Mandates
Currently 21% of employers have a vaccine mandate, WTW said. Of those employers surveyed, 29% are planning or considering making vaccination a requirement to gain access to the workplace, and 21% are planning or considering vaccination as a condition of employment for all employees, WTW said.
A full 80% of employers already require employees to wear masks indoors, and 75% use workplace exposure tracing to alert employees to potential exposure, WTW said.
“We have reached a point in the pandemic where employers that have worked hard to make it easy for employees to get vaccinated are also considering approaches to make it more difficult for employees to remain unvaccinated,” Jeff Levin-Scherz, WTW population health leader, said in a release.
But policies such as tracking workers’ vaccinations can bring additional administrative burdens even as they potentially improve workplace safety, Levin-Scherz said.
“This is not an easy situation for employers to navigate,” he said.
Some employers are providing vaccine incentives. Of those surveyed, 17% offer financial incentives to their workers for getting vaccinated, and another 14% are planning or considering doing so, with cash payments of $100 to $199 being the most common.
Only 2% of employers currently offer a discount on insurance premiums to vaccinated employees, or impose a surcharge on premiums for those who are unvaccinated, WTW said.
Nearly 40% of employers reported that they don’t expect their organizations to end pandemic policies until the end of the second quarter of 2022, WTW said.