Research/studies Workplace exposures

Nearly half of employers unsure about mandating COVID-19 vaccines: survey

Photo: Bill Oxford/iStockphoto

San Francisco — Only a small percentage of employers require or plan to require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, while more than 4 out of 10 are undecided, according to the results of a recent survey.

Littler Mendelson P.C., an employment and labor law firm that represents management, conducted an online survey of more than 1,800 human resources professionals, in-house lawyers and C-suite executives from organizations of all sizes around the country between Jan. 13 and 22.

Less than 1% of respondents (0.5%) said their organization mandates COVID-19 vaccination for all employees, and 6% plan to do so when the vaccines are “readily available.” Another 43% were unsure and still considering the possibility of requiring vaccination.

Nearly 80% of the respondents pointed to employee resistance as a reason for not mandating vaccines. Other reasons included the potential impact on employee morale or company culture, as well as legal liability.

Instead, employers plan to encourage workers to get vaccinated by providing them with vaccine-related information (87%), onsite vaccine availability (37%) and paid time off to get vaccinated (33%). Another 11% of the respondents said their organization would offer incentives such as cash rewards.


“Given the wide range of legal and practical considerations employers must balance in establishing COVID-19 vaccination policies, it’s not surprising that most are currently planning to encourage, rather than mandate, immunization,” Barry Hartstein, leader of the COVID-19 vaccination working group at Littler, said in a press release. “It’s also a telling sign of the unprecedented environment we’re operating in that employers’ top two concerns with requiring vaccination are not legal or liability issues, but rather focus on the personal perspective of employees grappling with an ongoing global crisis and the potential impact on company culture.”

Even when COVID-19 vaccines are more readily available, employers still plan to keep in place safety measures such as requiring or encouraging the use of facemasks (81%), modifying workspaces for physical distancing (66%), and limiting employee contact in common areas (62%).

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