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01/14/2022

Challenger: Companies need to establish clear policies on vaccines

Marianne Wilson
Editor-in-Chief
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Over a third of companies were waiting for OSHA's guidance before making any definitive policy decisions on vaccines, according to survey by Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

The decision by companies on whether to impose an employee COVID-19 vaccine mandate is now back in their court given the recent decision by the Supreme Court to strike down the OSHA rule. 

"Over a third of companies were waiting for OSHA's guidance before making any definitive policy decisions on vaccines,” said Andrew Challenger, senior VP of global outplacement and business and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “Now that large companies are not required to get their workers vaccinated or tested, employers will have to grapple with whether and how to impose their own rules, outbreaks that lead to absences, and pushback from workers who have COVID concerns.”

A Challenger survey of 172 companies of varying sizes and industries across the U.S. conducted online in October and November, found that 34.3% of employers said they were awaiting OSHA guidance on vaccines, while 25% were either requiring vaccines or requiring vaccines and testing. More than 40% responded they were not requiring vaccinations.

“Employers are rightly concerned about an exodus of talent, as workers flee to other opportunities or leave positions that do not meet their needs,” said Challenger. “While many are concerned vaccine mandates create yet another hurdle to attracting and retaining workers, others see it as a selling point.”

Job seekers — who have the upper hand in a tight labor market with record numbers of job openings — will use companies' vaccine policies to make decisions on which jobs to take,” according to Challenger.

"Companies are experiencing pushback from workers on return-to-office plans, and an absence of vaccine or testing policies will likely exacerbate that pushback,” he said. “Employers will need to create not just policy that works for their individual companies, but clear communications on what these policies entail to their workers. And they won't be able to use OSHA as cover for any decisions.”