Over half of employers plan to have vaccine mandates by the end of the year

September 1, 2021, 10:00 AM UTC

Now that the Federal Drug Administration approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, many employers have been ramping up their plans to vaccinate their workforce. By the end of the year, 52% of U.S. companies plan to have some type of vaccine mandate in place for their workplaces. 

That’s up significantly from the just 29% of employers who reported they already have a vaccine mandate or plan to put one in place by the end of September 2021, according to a new report by Willis Towers Watson. The company surveyed nearly 1,000 employers in August, including both public and private businesses, as well as nonprofits and government entities. Companies surveyed had 100 to over 25,000 employees and included those in manufacturing, health care, utilities, finance, IT, and general services. 

The planned employee vaccine mandates range from requiring vaccines to access shared work areas such as cafeterias and conference rooms to requiring vaccines to return to work in-person, Willis Towers Watson reported.

About 29% of companies are either planning to require or considering requiring workers to show proof of vaccination to gain access to the workplace while about 21% are planning or considering making vaccination a condition of employment for all employees, Willis Towers Watson found. 

“The Delta variant has made employers take new actions to keep their workers—and workplaces—safe and healthy. We expect even more employers to institute vaccine mandates in the wake of FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine,” said Jeff Levin-Scherz, M.D., population health leader for Willis Towers Watson. 

In addition to requiring vaccines, 80% of companies surveyed are requiring employees wear masks while indoors at the office. Another 13% reported they are planning or considering implementing a mask mandate.

Three out of four employers also have contact-tracing systems in place to alert employees to potential COVID exposure, and about 10% require testing for in-person employees. Another 23% are planning or considering requiring testing at work.

“This is not an easy situation for employers to navigate. For instance, new policies such as tracking workers’ vaccinations can improve safety but also bring additional administrative requirements,” Levin-Scherz said. And expect employers to keep making adjustments, especially as the current wave of COVID infections continues to play out, Levin-Scherz said.

“While some employers will institute more frequent testing, workplace restrictions on the unvaccinated, and vaccination mandates, all will have one common goal in mind,” he added, “to keep their workforce healthy and productive by minimizing the risk of spreading COVID-19 in the workplace.”

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