Nearly half of U.S. workers favor employer-mandated COVID-19 vaccines
As the United States starts rolling out the coronavirus vaccine, 49 percent of working Americans believe employers should require COVID-19 vaccines in the workplace, according to the 2020 Eagle Hill Consulting COVID-19 Vaccines and the Workplace Survey conducted by Ipsos from December 4-8, 2020. That means employees are split on whether vaccination should be mandatory. When a vaccine is in place, the vast majority of workers want employers to require or encourage masks, social distancing, COVID-19 testing, and temperature checks.
The survey included 1005 respondents from a random sample of employees across the U.S.
Who should pay the costs? If employers require additional vaccinations following the initial round of inoculations, few workers believe that employees should shoulder the cost (three percent), the national research finds. Instead, workers believe the federal government (38 percent), employers (25 percent), insurance providers (25 percent), or state/local government (8 percent) should pay for future required vaccinations. Further, more than half of employees (54 percent) believe that employers should pay for any employer-required COVID-19 testing.
Existing concerns. Eagle Hill Consulting pointed to Pew Research Center findings that substantial concerns among Americans about a COVID-19 vaccine already exist. And, previous Eagle Hill research indicates employees have low trust in their employers to manage through the COVID-19 crisis.
Employers face tough decisions. Now, employers face many complex issues and decisions when it comes to vaccines. For example, should employers mandate vaccines before employees return to the workplace? Will employment be at risk if an employee refuses vaccination? Will certain employees be exempt? Who will pay for any future employer mandated COVID-19 testing and vaccines?
Age and gender-based support. According to the Eagle Hill research, the level of support for compulsory workplace vaccinations varies by age and gender. Support among men is at 53 percent, and lower for women (44 percent). Younger workers are most supportive of employer-mandated vaccines (62 percent), followed by Millennials (50 percent), GenX (46 percent), and Baby Boomers (46 percent).
Post-vaccination precautions. The survey found that when asked about the role employers should play with COVID-19 precautions even after a vaccine is widely available, there was broad support for employer involvement:
- 53 percent support an employer mask requirement; 32 percent support employers encouraging mask use.
- 40 percent support an employer social distancing requirement; 45 percent support employers encouraging social distancing.
- 26 percent support an employer personal protective equipment requirement; 38 percent support employers encouraging use of PPE.
- 24 percent support employer mandates for regular COVID-19 testing; 46 percent support employers encouraging testing.
- 44 percent of employees support mandated workplace temperature checks; 34 percent support employers encouraging temperature checks.
It’s going to be contentious, so get in front of it. According to Melissa Jezior, president and chief executive officer of Eagle Hill Consulting, the road ahead is going to be complicated for employers, as the research shows. "The workforce clearly is split on employer vaccine mandates, so it’s going to be contentious no matter where an employer lands on inoculation requirements."
"Employers must get in front of the vaccine issue today," Jezior said. "There has never been a more crucial time for meaningful employee engagement, which could make or break organizations already struggling. It won’t be enough to just announce vaccine plans to employees. Instead, leaders are prudent to engage in conversations to understand the views of their workforce now to develop a vaccine strategy that is aligned with business goals and employee preferences."
"There isn’t a one-size-fits all approach," Jezior added. "Different industries will have different needs, and employees clearly have differing views as evidenced by the research. And when there is meaningful employee engagement, employers may discover new approaches. For example, employee incentives rather than mandates might be more appealing to workers."
From WCI's HR Answers Now ©2020 CCH Incorporated and its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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