According to ABC News, COVID-19 cases jumped by over 40% in the last month. The popular news source also states that more than 81 million Americans eligible to receive the vaccine remain without it. 1 As more and more folks return to work and assume some semblance of normalcy, the question for service-based, high touch business remains: How will a vaccine mandate affect me?
As of November 23, 2021, The Biden administration has officially requested a federal court to immediately instate a nationwide vaccine mandate for large businesses. Their reasoning for this is that the COVID-19 threat to unvaccinated workers is “ongoing and overwhelming.” 2
At this point, whether you agree or disagree with the vaccine, there’s a good chance action will have to be taken. When it comes to the vaccine mandate in the United States, here’s what your tire business needs to know.
Will all businesses have to comply with the mandate?
The Biden administration recently released details regarding major policies that affect certain employers based on the size of the business.
According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), by January 4th, “employers with 100 or more employees [must] ensure each of their workers is fully vaccinated or tests for COVID-19 on at least a weekly basis.” 3
If you’re under 100 employees, you don’t have to take any action– for now.
However, those with 100+ employees may find providing regular, weekly testing to be cost intensive and resource draining. While the mandate does not necessarily require vaccinations, per se, we may see a lot more of this kind of language crop up, and it will likely start to also affect smaller businesses in time.
What do I do if one of my model employees is not vaccinated?
For now, if you’re under 100 employees, you’re not legally required to do anything if an employee isn’t vaccinated. Even if your organization has 100+ employees, your own company policy may allow unvaccinated workers to work side by side with vaccinated counterparts.
With the mandate requiring steps to be taken for bigger businesses, there are a few options.
- Speak to the employee privately and see if they would consider getting the vaccine or working from home.
- Offer PTO for the employee to go get vaccinated.
- Depending on the employee’s role and value to the company, consider a weekly testing program for them to test for COVID-19.
The primary goal of the vaccine mandate is to keep employees safe. If employees don’t agree with getting the vaccine, it’s up to you to consider their stance and take the action that will benefit the largest part of your workforce. Whatever action you take may come with consequences that you’ll need to be prepared to address.
What are my options for keeping employees safe, vaccine or not?
As a business leader in the tire industry, you undoubtedly spend a lot of time working on your people. Good people can last you a lifetime, and they can help you stand out in an often crowded market.
If you’re finding it harder to straddle the line between mandates, requirements, and safety concerns around COVID-19, you’re certainly not alone. In every industry, businesses are asking themselves the same questions.
The easiest ways to ensure your employees remain safe whether they choose to get the vaccine or not are also the simplest.
Require masks for all employees, whether vaccinated or not. This reduces the risk of division between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, and makes working together a safe, collaborative affair.
Continue to enforce at least six feet of distance between employees, whenever possible. It’s become the golden rule for stopping the spread of COVID-19, and most work environments make it easy to set up and maintain barriers.
Encourage thorough hand washing and sanitizing. Set up sanitation stations throughout the workspace. Ensure soap is antibacterial grade and always stocked. Make sure commonly used spaces, like the lunchroom and restroom, are cleaned consistently with a product that kills viruses and bacteria.
A little can go a long way to making employees feel safe, clean, and respected in their place of work.
Is it my responsibility to check vaccination cards?
While you aren’t required to check vaccination cards, it is a good idea to know your employee’s vaccination status to ensure you are on the same page. According to the SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management), “all employees are required to receive vaccinations as determined by [insert relevant department or safety committee], unless a reasonable accommodation is approved.”
If an employee isn’t vaccinated, and your organization is greater than 100 people, they’re going to need to be tested every week. You’ll have to know whether they’re vaccinated in order to ensure they’re compliant. The SHRM also states employers should offer their employees PTO to get vaccinated if they choose to do so.
If they choose to not be vaccinated, the SHRM will consider reasonable accommodation to unvaccinated employees for medical purposes and/or religious beliefs.
In order to be considered for reasonable accommodation against the vaccine mandate, the SHRM suggests to, “submit a completed Request for Accommodation form to the human resources department to begin the interactive accommodation process as soon as possible after vaccination deadlines have been announced.”
Typically, these requests will be approved so long as they do not pose a direct threat to the health and safety of others or cause the company any problems.
Pressuring an employee to share personal information like their vaccination status can be uncomfortable for both parties involved. Have an open dialogue with management to see what the overall stance for getting vaccination information should be, and ensure that everyone follows it. Remember, even if it’s information that you need, there’s a way to go about getting it that is safe and respectful.
What’s next for the tire industry and vaccines?
Right now, the newest mandate is one that’s designed to keep the most people safe without infringing on the rights of others. Regular testing and COVID-19 screenings may not be the most convenient for companies that aren’t used to it, but over time, it will become as much a part of the day to day as wearing masks and washing hands.
Some companies may see a slight dip in their employee numbers as some folks seek different rules, but a nationwide mandate means most employers will be in the same boat and have to require similar things. Employees will get used to the new rules, and most operations will continue at status quo.
As a business leader in the tire industry, your job is simple– follow government regulations as they apply to your company in order to keep your people safe, healthy, and happy.