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December 1, 2021

What 500+ employers say about their plans to mandate vaccines—or not

Daily Briefing

    Most U.S. employers said they have required or plan to require Covid-19 vaccines for their employees, according to a new survey from Willis Towers Watson (WTW).

    Resource library: How health care organizations can navigate vaccine mandates and other issues

    Majority of employers say they will require Covid-19 vaccines

    For the survey, WTW surveyed 543 U.S. employers, who represent 5.2 million workers, from Nov. 12 to Nov. 18. According to the survey, more than half (57%) of all respondents said they either currently require or plan to require Covid-19 vaccinations for their employees.

    Of the employers who already have vaccine mandates, only 3% said they led to an increase in employee resignations. In addition, nearly half of all respondents said they believe that vaccine mandates could help recruit and retain employees. However, almost a third of employers planning vaccine mandates said they are "very concerned" that the requirements could lead to employees leaving.

    In addition to vaccine mandates, many employers are planning to require regular testing and masks to protect employees returning to in-person work. According to the survey, 84% of respondents said they will offer Covid-19 testing options, and 90% said they currently require or plan to require masks indoors.

    "Much has changed since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet vaccination, masking, distancing and better ventilation remain essential in protecting workers from the virus and its variants," said Jeff Levin-Scherz, population health leader at WTW.

    Legal challenges for federal vaccine requirements may stand in the way

    These survey results follow the Biden administration's announcement of vaccine requirements for large employers and health care facilities that participate in Medicare and Medicaid. However, these requirements are currently facing several legal challenges, preventing them from going into effect.

    Nonetheless, Levin-Scherz said, "Despite the current holding pattern pending the court rulings, we advise employers to proceed with plans to implement the mandate as well as other efforts to protect their workers." He added, "Employers can encourage vaccinations and boosters with scheduling flexibility and time off, promote regular testing, stipulate mask wearing onsite to ensure employee health and safety—and support this with regular communications." (Harris, USA Today, 11/30; Willis Towers Watson press release, 11/30)

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