Disney, Walmart, More Companies Require COVID-19 Vaccination

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In response to the surge in COVID-19 cases fueled by the Delta variant, more companies, including Disney and Walmart, are requiring workers to get vaccinated.

On July 30, The Walt Disney Company gave its U.S.-based salaried and nonunion, hourly employees 60 days to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. "At The Walt Disney Company, the safety and well-being of our employees during the pandemic has been and continues to be a top priority," according to a company statement.

Walmart will require employees at its headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., and certain employees who travel in the U.S. to get vaccinated by Oct. 4, unless an exception applies. "We believe we have an important role to play and believe the requirement for vaccinations for our leaders is key to driving toward an end to this pandemic," said President and Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon in a memo to employees.

Tyson Foods will also require many U.S.-based workers to get vaccinated and is aiming to have all processing-plant and corporate employees comply by Nov. 1.

More companies are considering such mandates, since the vaccination rate has stalled, and COVID-19 cases have spiked. In mid-June, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported an average of about 12,000 new COVID-19 cases each day, but the rate recently surpassed 60,000 a day on average. "An increase in the number of cases will put more strain on health care resources, lead to more hospitalizations and potentially more deaths," according to the CDC. The agency said that vaccines are the best protection against variants. 

We've rounded up articles and resources from SHRM Online and other trusted media outlets on the news.

Disney Requires Proof Before Returning to Worksites

Disney employees who are still working from home will be required to submit proof of vaccination before they return to offices and other worksites, including theme parks. Disney's mandate applies to nonunion employees, but the company is discussing options with union representatives. "Vaccines are the best tool we all have to help control this global pandemic and protect our employees," the company said in a statement. Disney will also require theme-parks guests to wear masks while indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

(CNBC)

Walmart Doubles Incentive for Front-line Workers

Walmart's vaccination mandate does not apply to front-line workers, but company leaders are hoping that the new policy will encourage such workers to get the shot. Walmart will double its incentive to $150 for workers in stores, clubs and distribution centers who get vaccinated. Employees who already received a $75 incentive will be paid an additional $75. The retailer also is encouraging customers to wear masks in stores that are located in COVID-19 hotspots.

(Associated Press)

Tyson Is Working with Union to Boost Vaccination Rate

Meatpacking plants made headlines at the start of the pandemic because their frontline workers were among the hardest hit as the coronavirus started to spread through the U.S. Tyson and other companies in the industry have rolled out educational campaigns, held vaccination events and offered workers incentives to get vaccinated. However, language barriers and concerns about vaccine safety and effectiveness have made some workers reluctant to get vaccinated. Additionally, some labor unions that represent meatpacking-plant workers want to continue promoting rather than requiring inoculation. Tyson said its unionized workforce will be subject to collective bargaining over a vaccination mandate, and frontline workers will receive a $200 bonus when they are fully vaccinated. New hires will need to be fully vaccinated before their start date.

"We did not take this decision lightly," said Tyson Chief Executive Officer Donnie King. "We have spent months encouraging our team members to get vaccinated—today, under half of our team members are."

(The Wall Street Journal)

Federal and State Leaders, Large Companies Roll Out Stricter Policies

President Joe Biden announced on July 29 that federal employees will be required to confirm that they are vaccinated against the coronavirus or submit to frequent testing for COVID-19. Beginning in August, health care workers and state employees in California will have to show proof of vaccination or submit to weekly tests under a measure that Gov. Gavin Newsom's office announced on July 26. Public health care employees in New York City also must show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or submit to weekly testing beginning in August. Additionally, some large employers—such as Facebook and Google—will require workers to get vaccinated before returning to the office due to the surge in coronavirus cases.

"We are now faced with a much more transmissible strain of this virus—the Delta variant," the White House said. "The good news is that we are prepared for this. We know how to stop it: Get more people vaccinated."

(SHRM Online)

CDC Recommends Indoor Mask-Wearing in Hotspots

Workplace safety guidelines from federal, state and local authorities are rapidly changing in response to the highly transmittable COVID-19 Delta variant. Significantly, the CDC is recommending that fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors if they are in locations with high or substantial COVID-19 transmission rates. Employers may consider reinstituting mask requirements if they are in affected areas. COVID-19 transmission levels vary significantly by geographic location. As of July 31, 75 percent of U.S. counties fall under the CDC's mask-wearing guidance. See whether your county is among them.

(SHRM Online)

What Should Be in a Vaccination Policy?

Vaccination policies vary depending on whether an employer requires vaccines or makes them voluntary. Here is an overview of what to include in the policies.

(SHRM Online)

 

[For the latest information on COVID-19, visit SHRM's COVID-19 and Coronavirus resource hub page. Want to learn more about COVID-19 and workplace safety? Join us at the SHRM Annual Conference & Expo 2021, taking place Sept. 9-12 in Las Vegas and virtually.]

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