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SHRM: Most Employers Will Not Require Vaccines if Mandate is Struck Down

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — SHRM (the Society for Human Resource Management) released research from late November that shows more than half (51 percent) of employers subject to the Biden administration's COVID-19 vaccine and testing mandate for organizations with 100 or more workers are waiting to see how current legal challenges unfold before deciding on a vaccination policy.

Most respondents to SHRM's survey—75 percent—said they are not likely to require vaccines or testing if the mandate is permanently struck down by the courts.

Employers cited numerous challenges to implementing the mandate, including uncertainty around the outcome of legal challenges (73 percent), managing employee morale (65 percent), record keeping requirements (59 percent), managing employee retention (56 percent) and staff time associated with implementing the requirements (55 percent).

"SHRM previously called on the administration to release a draft of any proposed mandate and incorporate public comment rather than require employers to meet an arbitrary standard drafted outside the normal rulemaking process," said Emily M. Dickens, SHRM chief of staff, head of government affairs and corporate secretary. "Unfortunately, the vaccine and testing mandate was rolled out without input from employers, causing the concern and confusion we see in our research. While the mandate has been put on hold by the courts, SHRM asks the administration to work with the HR community to minimize disruptions to the workplace. We are a partner to public health officials, and it is our job to safeguard employees' lives and livelihoods."

SHRM's survey included responses from employers covered by the mandate for organizations with 100 or more workers (53 percent), employers covered by separate mandates for federal contractors and health care workers (25 percent) and employers that do not meet mandate criteria (23 percent).

Key results include the following:

  • Of employers covered by one of the vaccine mandates, 24 percent said over 80 percent of their workforce is fully vaccinated.
  • Employers covered by the federal contractor or health care mandates are two times more likely than employers covered by the broader mandate to say over 80 percent of their workforce is fully vaccinated (36 percent versus 18 percent, respectively).
  • If the mandate for employers with 100 or more workers is upheld, 18 percent are likely to risk non-compliance.
  • Of employers that have started implementing a vaccination and/or testing policy, 55 percent have received at least one medical accommodation request and 66 percent have received at least one religious accommodation request.
  • Employers received accommodation requests from two to three percent of their workforce (median: one percent).
  • 13 percent of employers required employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment prior to the release of the broader mandate on Nov. 5.
  • Of employers covered by one of the vaccine mandates, 75 percent have begun the process of determining employees' vaccination status.
  • Nearly half of employers in construction/utilities/agriculture and mining (49 percent) said that 50 percent or less of their workforce is considered fully vaccinated, followed by around a third of employers in manufacturing (34 percent) and wholesale trade/retail trade/transportation and warehousing (32 percent).
  • Conversely, employers in professional, scientific and technical services (45 percent) and government and education (44 percent) are the most likely to say that over 80 percent of their workforce is considered fully vaccinated, followed by employers in healthcare and social assistance (35 percent).
  • Of the employers surveyed, the majority are currently operating fully in-person (46 percent) or a hybrid of remotely and in-person (50 percent). Only four percent said they're currently operating fully remotely.
  • Of employers offering a testing alternative, medium-sized employers (47 percent) are more likely to say their employees will pay for testing out of pocket than large-sized employers (33 percent).


The survey was fielded electronically to a random sample of active SHRM members November 22-30, 2021. In total, 1,000 members responded to the survey. Academics, students, consultants and retired HR professionals were excluded from the survey. Respondents represented organizations of all sizes in a wide variety of industries across the U.S.
About SHRM

SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, creates better workplaces where employers and employees thrive together. As the voice of all things work, workers and the workplace, SHRM is the foremost expert, convener and thought leader on issues impacting today's evolving workplaces. With 300,000+ HR and business executive members in 165 countries, SHRM impacts the lives of more than 115 million workers and families globally. Learn more at and on Twitter @SHRM.


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