Vaccine mandates

Posted by Flux on 

16 August 2021

What’s trending – Mandatory Vaccines 
An increasing number of companies are implementing vaccine mandates for employees to get vaccinated in the midst of the spread of the Delta variant. Microsoft is the latest company to require employees, vendors and guests to show that they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 before entering any company buildings in the US. But the pushback against vaccine mandates is growing. An anti-vaccine rally recently took place in France. Anti-vaxxers in the UK are declaring themselves to be vegan to avoid getting vaccinated. Legal experts argue that a mandate is an infringement of the ethical beliefs of vegans which are protected by employment law. 

Why is it important?
Mandatory vaccines are increasingly going to become a legal/HR minefield for businesses. Firstly, it becomes a challenge when employees claim their personal rights are being violated by company policies. According to advisory service, Labourwise, the South African Human Rights Commission has already invited employees who feel hard done by to approach the Commission. While South African labour legislation does not allow companies to fire employees fairly if non-vaccination is the only reason, employers can impose mandatory vaccinations on employee candidates as part of their strategy, although there is a risk that potential employees might avoid companies with such policies. Complicating matters further, new research from Qualtrics shows that 38% of workers in the US would consider leaving their current employer if the organisation did not enact a vaccine mandate. It doesn’t stop there: unvaccinated employees who fall sick could cost a company dearly in lost productivity. Then, actually implementing a mandate requires a company to jump through hoops. 

What can businesses do about it? 
Businesses are already at a crossroads: they need to declare a workplace vaccination policy. Life insurance provider Discovery Life has already taken steps to penalise the unvaccinated.  Refusing a vaccine will now be treated in a similar way to smoking, as an extra risk factor for early death. People who want life insurance but refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine will be charged more. Unvaccinated people are being viewed as higher risk and, as a result, businesses need to budget for additional expenses that staff contracting COVID-19 would bring. Businesses need to have strict COVID-19 protocols to prevent unvaccinated employees spreading the virus at work – and well-thought-out policies that protect against a potential backlash from employees should they adopt a vaccine mandate.

By Faeeza Khan

Image credit: Daniel Schludi

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