Survey Finds Pace of Employer Vaccination Mandates Accelerating

Woman getting vaccinated

September 07, 2021

Woman getting vaccinated

The pace of COVID-19 vaccination mandates by US employers is likely to increase in the coming months, according to a recent survey by Willis Towers Watson.

The survey also found that more companies will implement financial incentives to encourage vaccinations and will expand test requirements as they update plans to reopen workplaces.

The survey, conducted in mid-August, found that by this year's fourth quarter, 52 percent of employers could have one or more vaccine mandates in the workplace. Those mandates range from requiring vaccination for employees using common areas such as cafeterias to requiring vaccination for subsets of employees to requiring vaccination for all employees. At present, 21 percent of US employers have such mandates in place, according to Willis Towers Watson.

Some 29 percent of US employers are planning or considering making COVID-19 vaccination a requirement to gain access to the workplace, Willis Towers Watson found, and 21 percent are planning or considering vaccination as a condition of employment for all employees.

The Willis Towers Watson survey also found that the number of employers that will track whether employers have completed their COVID-19 vaccination is increasing. Nearly 6 in 10 currently track workers' vaccination status, according to the survey, and another 19 percent are planning or considering doing so later this year.

"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," Jeff Levin-Scherz, M.D., population health leader at Willis Towers Watson, said in a statement. "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. At the same time, employers will continue efforts to encourage vaccination and communicate regularly with employees."

The Willis Towers Watson survey found that 17 percent of employers offer financial incentives to encourage vaccination, with 14 percent considering doing so. Cash payments ranging from $100 to $199 are the most common financial incentive.

As employers respond to the Delta variant, Willis Towers Watson found that 80 percent of survey respondents require employees to wear masks indoors at any location, and 13 percent are considering doing so. Some 75 percent of employers are using workplace exposure tracing to alert employees to potential exposure.

The Delta variant also appears to be leading employers to push back plans for returning to normal, with 39 percent of employers responding that they won't reach a "new normal" in terms of a return to the workplace and ending pandemic-related policies until the second quarter of 2022. Another 26 percent expect to reach that new normal during the first quarter of next year.

September 07, 2021