Many Americans and Brits will face de facto vaccine mandates, as a new poll shows that 56% of businesses will require at least some employees to be inoculated against Covid-19, in many cases under threat of losing their jobs.
The poll, which was conducted by Arizona State University and released on Thursday, showed that 40% of businesses will require all employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19, while 16% will mandate the jabs for at least some of their workers. All told, 88% of businesses will require or encourage their employees to be vaccinated, and 60% said they will demand some kind of proof of inoculation.
The survey, which was backed by the Rockefeller Foundation, paints a bleak picture for those who plan to resist getting the Covid-19 jabs. While the US and UK governments have refrained from making vaccines mandatory – and facing legal challenges that might ensue – the private sector may effectively do it for them. Businesses are already setting the stage to require so-called ‘vaccine passports,’ forcing customers to show proof of inoculation or a negative Covid test before accessing certain goods, services and events.
While many people can choose not to travel abroad or go to business venues that require proof of vaccination, an employer mandate could be more problematic. Arizona State said 31% of businesses plan to take disciplinary action, including possibly firing employees who refuse to comply with their vaccine policies.
A further 44% said non-compliant employees won’t be allowed to return to the workplace, while 27% said they will change the work responsibilities of those who fail to obey. Only 15% said there will be no consequences, even though the vaccines are being administered under emergency authorizations and so far lack the long-term study needed for full regulatory approval.
The survey was conducted at 1,168 companies, mostly large businesses with 250 or more employees based in the US and UK. The average business in the poll still has 57% of employees working remotely. About 75% expect workers to be back on site within the next one to six months, but 72% said they plan to offer more flexible work-from-home policies after the pandemic.
Employee wellbeing has suffered greatly during the pandemic. Nearly 58% of businesses said their concerns over employee mental health have increased, while 52% were more concerned about worker engagement. Other troubling issues included Covid-19’s impact on burnout, productivity and morale.
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