Risk & Compliance

Large Employers Hesitant About Vax Mandate

“The majority of employers are really in wait-and-see-mode" amid legal challenges to the Biden administration's COVID-19 vaccine rule.
Matthew HellerDecember 14, 2021

Most large U.S. employers do not appear to be motivated to require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 unless the Biden administration’s mandate survives legal challenges.

In a survey of 1,000 of its members, the Society for Human Resources Management found that 75% of those subject to the mandate said they are not likely to require vaccines or testing if it is permanently struck down by the courts.

The mandate applies to organizations with 100 or more workers. More than half (51%) of the survey respondents are waiting to see how current legal challenges unfold before deciding on a vaccination policy.

“The majority of employers and HR professionals that we chatted with are really in wait-and-see-mode,” Annemarie Schaefer, SHRM’s head of research, told Yahoo Finance.

In November, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals stopped enforcement of the rule by issuing a nationwide stay. The case was transferred to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which kept the stay in effect.

There are separate mandates for federal contractors and health care workers.

According to the SHRM survey, if the courts uphold the mandate for large employers, 18% are likely to risk non-compliance. Only 13% of employers required employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment prior to the release of the broader mandate on Nov. 5.

Asked about the challenges of implementing the mandate, employers cited uncertainty about the outcome of legal challenges (73%), managing employee morale (65%), record keeping requirements (59%), managing employee retention (56%), and staff time associated with implementing the requirements (55%).

“While the mandate has been put on hold by the courts, SHRM asks the administration to work with the HR community to minimize disruptions to the workplace,” Emily Dickens, SHRM’s chief of staff, said in a news release.

Of employers covered by one of the vaccine mandates, 75% have begun the process of determining employees’ vaccination status, and 24% said more than 80% of their workforce is fully vaccinated.