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Is the government’s vaccination mandate plan good for retail?

14th Sep 2021 | Retail

The White House’s plan to require companies with 100 or more employees to mandate vaccinations or conduct weekly COVID-19 testing was applauded by many trade and business groups, but a number are seeking more details around the logistics of such a requirement.

Describing the plan as a “colossal undertaking,” The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) said in its statement, “Coordination with industry and all levels of government is essential to avoid a chaotic and counterproductive situation. Further, testing capacity is already stressed and must be scaled immensely to meet the enormous demand that will result from these new requirements.”

The National Retail Federation (NRF) appeared to have concerns about making vaccinations a requirement. NRF said in its statement it “will continue to encourage Americans to voluntarily protect their own well-being and that of their families by getting vaccinated,” noting that several of its members, including Walmart, are mandating vaccinations for some or all employees while others are offering monetary incentives and paid time off.

NRF said, “We appreciate the administration’s commitment to ensuring workplaces are safe despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic. We look forward to working with the Labor Department as it promulgates this rule.”

Among those offering fuller praise were the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), which said, “The only way to address the economic fallout from COVID-19 is to resolve the underlying health crisis.”

The Business Roundtable, a lobbying group that includes CEOs of some of the biggest companies in the U.S. including Amazon, Apple, Home Depot and Walmart, also voiced its support.

“America’s business leaders know how critical vaccination and testing are in defeating the pandemic, which is why so many have invested resources in encouraging and incentivizing their customers and employees to get vaccinated, including providing paid time off,” said Joshua Bolten, president and CEO. “Over the past several weeks many companies have decided to implement a vaccine mandate for some or all of their employees, a decision we applaud.”

Corporate leaders have become increasingly open to vaccination mandates given the rapid spread of the delta variant and the universal accessibility of vaccines. A government-mandated program eases fears by some firms that workers would jump to competitors without mandates.

Still, a survey from labor law firm Littler conducted in early August found resistance from employees and the impact on culture and employee morale continuing to be the two primary concerns around mandates.

By: Tom Ryan