Who should pay for testing unvaccinated employees?

The vast majority of employers surveyed by the Society for Human Resource Management said they believe it will be challenging to implement the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate, which requires most organizations with 100 or more employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and routinely screen those who are not.

The Alexandria, Virginia-based SHRM found 90% of employers say they believe the plan will be somewhat or very challenging to implement.

One of the biggest concerns expressed by HR professionals surveyed was the costs of testing unvaccinated employees.

“It can be a wild expense,” said SHRM chief knowledge officer Alexander Alfonso. “We’ve seen some examples from employers in our own research that say that could be so onerous that it would be an additional expense of maybe 5% to 10% on their human capital costs every month.”

“That is something that in many companies could equal millions of dollars if not more, and for a lot of smaller employers, it could be a couple of thousand dollars that can’t be accounted for in a way that would be offset by anything other than additional revenue,” he said.

In terms of costs, 65% of respondents said their organization cannot afford to pay for regular screening for unvaccinated employees.

Aside from costs, four out of five organizations that meet the mandate criteria said it will make maintaining morale and engagement of their workforce more difficult. And 72% say the requirements will make maintaining regular business operations more difficult.

Just putting a plan in place is a concern by most HR executives SHRM surveyed.

“Our research shows 91% of employers are concerned about how they would go about keeping up with this and maintaining the protocol that’s required. The other thing they are concerned about is heavy duty turnover. In other words they will experience some employee turnover because certain staff will not comply with the vaccine mandate,” Alfonso said.

SHRM advises its members to strongly encourage them to think about incentivization programs for getting vaccinated, charge health insurance surcharges on those who don’t get vaccinated, and to communicate openly and honestly and bring in medical experts to ease employees’ concerns.

SHRM reports 60% of U.S. workers are supportive of vaccine requirements, while 40% are not. The group received responses to its survey from about 1,300 of its members between Sept. 27 and 30.

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

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Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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