Rise of the workplace mandate

Rise of the workplace mandate

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Islam News – As the highly contagious Delta variant drives up cases across the country, more companies are announcing vaccine mandates for workers, including Disney, Walmart, Google and The New York Times.

“We’re definitely seeing that the tide is, in fact, turning,” said Lauren Hirsch, who covers business for The Times and our sister DealBook newsletter. “The big question right now is: What kind of workers will the mandates trickle down to?”

So far, with the exception of the health care industry, corporate vaccine mandates tend to cover white-collar workers, not the lower-income workers on the front lines who are less likely to be vaccinated.

Walmart, for example, recently announced a new vaccine mandate, but it doesn’t cover workers at stores and warehouses. Instead, the retailer announced mandatory inoculation for the 17,000 employees at its headquarters and for managers who travel domestically — a small fraction of its 1.6 million-person work force.

Some service-industry companies are afraid that the mandates will drive away workers at a time when they’re already in short supply, especially in sectors like retail and restaurants.

“There’s overlap between the demographic of those workers and those who tend to be unvaccinated,” Lauren said.

Unions, which are mixed on the issue, are another complicating factor. The union representing pilots, for example, recently agreed with United Airlines that vaccines would not be mandated, while a deal reached by Hollywood’s major unions will allow studios to require everyone on a production set to be vaccinated.

Experts warn that if companies adopt partial mandates, like Walmart has, it could exacerbate inequalities, leaving behind people who have lower incomes and are less likely to be insured.

The next big question, Lauren said, is whether companies will impose mandates on segments of their work force that have lower vaccination rates.

“Companies have been tracking how much of their work force is vaccinated,” Lauren said. “So it’s easier if your employees are already 80 or 90 percent vaccinated. It’s less easy at 50 percent. If they’re afraid they could lose half of their work force with a mandate, then it’s a completely different calculus.”

Source: The New York Times