Most U.S. companies will require proof of Covid vaccination from employees, survey finds

Most U.S. companies will require proof of Covid vaccination from employees, survey finds

A healthcare worker fills out a Covid-19 Vaccination Record Card in the Bronx borough of New York.

Angus Mordant | Bloomberg | Getty Images

More than 60% of companies in the U.S. will require proof of vaccination from their employees, according to a new survey conducted by Arizona State University with support from the Rockefeller Foundation.

A broad majority of U.S. employers, 65%, plan to offer employees incentives to get vaccinated and 63% will require proof of vaccination, according to the survey. Overall, 44% will require all employees to get vaccinated, 31% will just encourage vaccinations and 14% will require some employees to get vaccinated.

When it comes to consequences for failing to comply with company vaccination policy, 42% of businesses said the employee will not be allowed to return to the physical work environment, and 35% said disciplinary actions are on the table, up to and including possible termination.

The survey, released Thursday, represents the responses of 957 facilities across 24 industry sectors in the U.S. Most of the respondents were businesses with 250 or more employees.

Testing still remains critical to employers with 70% of respondents currently conducting Covid tests that are mostly mandatory.

In terms of employee well-being, the corporate respondents said burnout increased 54% and mental health concerns overall increased 59%. However, morale and productivity also both when up by nearly 50%.

Looking forward, 66% of employers are planning to allow employees to work from home full-time through 2021, and 73% intend to offer flexible work arrangements when the pandemic is over. However, 73% of businesses want employees to work from the office at least 20 hours a week.

“This is not just a bubble that goes back to ‘normal’, there will be some positive flexibility after the pandemic ends and we go back to in-person work,” said Mara G. Aspinall, a professor at Arizona State University’s College of Health Solutions and one of the authors of the survey.

Employees are mainly concerned about their personal health, risk of infection and safety of the workplace, according to the survey. Thirty-eight percent of employees want to return eventually but not immediately and about one quarter said they are reluctant to return at all, according to the businesses that responded to the survey.

“The pandemic has changed the traditional office environment in many ways, possibly forever, yet a majority of employers are indicating they see real value in employees continuing to interact face-to-face,” Nathaniel L. Wade, a co-author of the study who is also affiliated with ASU’s College of Health Solutions. “We really wanted to make sure we’re giving public information to help people make good decisions.”

Most employees, about 51%, would prefer to wait until the government or health agencies allow them to return to work, and about 47% said they would return to in-person work when the entire workforce is vaccinated.

“Employers have been relatively quiet in the pandemic, we’re now entering the next phase where employers are creating their own policies so that employees can go safely and sustainably back to the workplace,” Aspinall said. “People want to get back to normal, but they want to do it in a safe way.”