Nearly two-thirds of US companies are planning to require at least some of their workers to get vaccinated against Covid-19 regardless of whether they are legally bound to do so, according to a survey of thousands of employers.
The figures from a survey of more than 6,000 US employers show far more companies now say they intend to implement a vaccine mandate than had said they would eight months ago. More companies in the US are planning to do so compared with Europe, where vaccination rates are largely higher and where some governments have imposed their own mandates on individuals.
Joe Biden, the US president, announced earlier this year that all US businesses with 100 employees or more would have to order their employees either to get vaccinated or test negative for the virus every week. That proposal is now on hold while a court decides whether it can go ahead, but Manpower Group, which conducted the research, said companies had begun to respond to it anyway.
Jonas Prising, Manpower’s chief executive, told the Financial Times: “Biden’s announcement has had as much of a signalling effect as it will have an influence through enforcement. It was very useful for many employers who wanted to implement a mandate anyway, but were then able to say to their workers that they had to in anticipation of the government rule.”
Manpower’s survey shows that 27 per cent of US companies plan to insist all workers are double-vaccinated, another 18 per cent plan to insist everyone is triple-vaccinated, and another 18 per cent intend to implement mandates only for some staff.
When Manpower asked a similar question in March, it found only 4 per cent of employers planned to require vaccinations. In Europe, only half of the companies surveyed said they would bring in any kind of vaccine mandate.
Larger companies were more likely to require vaccinations, the survey found, while only 54 per cent of small companies globally planned to do so. A separate study of US Census Bureau data by the Economic Innovation Group think-tank last week showed that only 12 per cent of small employers in the US were mandating vaccines.
Figures suggest that mandates are an effective way to increase vaccination rates. Data released last month by the US government show more than 90 per cent of its staff were fully vaccinated following the implementation of its own mandate, compared with a national average rate of just over 60 per cent. However, the government also handed out tens of thousands of exemptions to its workers.
Biden has announced that the US government will require all companies with 100 staff or more to get vaccinated. But the status of that rule remains unclear, with a court having put it on hold pending a legal challenge from a consortium of states, companies and religious groups.
A judge could rule as soon as this week whether or not the temporary hold should remain in place while the case continues. But lawyers are increasingly sceptical that the mandate will be implemented in time for the government’s stated deadline of January 4.