SHRM Surveys Reveal Employers’ Anxiety Over Vaccine-or-Testing Mandate

SHRM released new research last week that found most employers—90 percent—believe it will be somewhat or very challenging to implement the Biden administration’s pending mandate that organizations with 100 or more employees require workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing. 

SHRM conducted surveys of HR professionals and American workers in late September, finding 80 percent of organizations that meet the mandate criteria are concerned about the amount of time they will have to spend enforcing or tracking employees’ vaccination status or test status. 

Two in 5, or 38 percent, of those organizations cited retaining talent as the most challenging impact of the mandate, and 89 percent believe some of their employees will quit their jobs due to the new requirements. 

Sixty-five percent of respondents said their organizations cannot afford to pay for regular testing for unvaccinated employees. 

Other key findings from the SHRM surveys: 

  • 4 out of 5 organizations (82 percent) that meet the mandate criteria said the requirements will make maintaining the morale and engagement of their workforce more difficult.
  • 60 percent of U.S. workers are supportive of the requirements, while 40 percent are unsupportive.
  • 59 percent of U.S. workers who are not fully vaccinated yet said they still are unlikely to get vaccinated even after the mandate.

SHRM President and CEO Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, discussed the research during an Oct. 15 appearance on CNBC. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is expected to release an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) shortly, giving employers a clearer picture of how to implement the mandate. Get more details here

SHRM will keep members updated on the ETS and how it will impact the workplace. Look for alerts in your inbox.

SHRM Discusses Mandate with Administration Officials

On Oct. 19, SHRM External Affairs met with White House officials to discuss OSHA’s upcoming ETS for implementing the administration’s vaccine and testing mandate.

The White House, through the Office of Management and Budget, is currently reviewing the ETS and engaging with stakeholders to hear input. SHRM provided the White House with concerns and questions raised by HR professionals in response to the surveys SHRM conducted of HR professionals and American workers.

SHRM External Affairs will continue working to ensure the HR perspective is taken into consideration as the administration finalizes the ETS.

Senate Confirms New Leader of OSHA

By a vote of 50-41 on Oct. 25, the U.S. Senate confirmed Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. He is OSHA’s first Senate-confirmed leader since early 2017.

Parker, a native of West Virginia, is an employment attorney who worked as counsel for the United Mine Workers and served as a senior official at the Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Most recently, Parker served as chief of California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, where he implemented health and safety regulations to control the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.

EEOC Updates Guidance on Religious Objections to Vaccine

On Oct. 25, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updatedits COVID-19 technical assistance to address questions about religious objections to mandatory employer COVID-19 vaccine requirements.

The expanded technical assistance provides new information about how Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applies when an applicant or employee requests an exception from an employer’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement that conflicts with their sincerely held religious beliefs, practices or observances. Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.

Employers and employees should also consult the EEOC’s updated religious discrimination guidance to learn more about religious accommodation requests under Title VII.

President Says Overseas Passengers Must Be Vaccinated

President Joe Biden issued a proclamation on Oct. 25 requiring adult non-citizens entering the U.S. to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 starting on Nov. 8. 

The proclamation moves away from the country-by-country restrictions previously applied during the pandemic and adopts an air travel policy that relies primarily on vaccination to advance the safe resumption of international air travel to the U.S.

More Organizations Are Conducting Pay Equity Reviews

While pay disparities persist in the American workforce, SHRM research announced yesterday shows nearly three 3 in 5 (58 percent) organizations voluntarily conduct pay equity reviews.

Of those organizations, 83 percent adjusted employees’ pay following a pay equity review, according to SHRM surveys of HR professionals and American workers.

The survey results demonstrate that focusing on how employees are compensated has numerous benefits for employers, especially when taking steps to strengthen workplace culture. 

For example, 91 percent of employees who believe their organization is transparent about how pay decisions are made also said they trust that their organization pays people equally for the same work regardless of gender, race and ethnicity. Conversely, only 49 percent of those who believe their organization lacks transparency when it comes to pay decisions trust that employees are being paid equally for the same work. 

SHRM also found less than half (47 percent) of HR professionals said their organization is transparent with employees about how pay decisions are made, but 94 percent think it is important for organizations to do so.

Of HR professionals who said their organization doesn’t conduct pay equity reviews, nearly half (47 percent) said it’s because conducting pay equity reviews is not a priority for their senior leadership. 

SHRM, Members of Congress Highlight Disability Employment

SHRM Chief of Staff and Head of Government Affairs Emily M. Dickens participated in a roundtable discussion on disability employment policy last week hosted by ENGAGE, a non-profit organization focused on bipartisan solutions to women’s economic security issues. 

The roundtable included Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash.; Fred Keller, R-Pa.; and Buddy Carter, R-Ga.; and executives from Equitable, UPS, Proctor & Gamble and other corporations.

The discussion centered around the need for coordinated disability policy efforts that ensure a positive outcome in increasing and expanding employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

As we near the end of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, SHRM will continue highlighting its advocacy for policies and solutions that create inclusive workplaces and a world of work that works for all.

SHRM INCLUSION 2021 Features Former White House Aide

Kal Penn, actor, producer and former White House aide, participated in a keynote discussion on Oct. 25 during the SHRM INCLUSION 2021 conference, which took place Oct. 25-27 in Austin, Texas, and virtually.

The conference was aimed at empowering HR professionals to go beyond traditional diversity, equity and inclusion practices by embracing actions that create workplaces that truly work for all.

From 2009 to 2011, Penn took a sabbatical from acting when he was appointed by President Obama to serve as associate director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, where he focused primarily on outreach to young Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and the arts community.

SHRM INCLUSION 2021 also featured conversations with Gretchen Carlson, Mimi Dixon of Crayola, Mark and John Cronin of John’s Crazy Socks, and Casey Adams Jones of Johnson & Johnson, among others.

House Bill Seeks Space for Nursing Mothers

H.R. 3110, the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (PUMP Act), was recently introduced with bipartisan support by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y. The bill passed the House by a vote of 276-149 on Oct. 22.

If enacted, employers would be legally required to provide a clean and private space—that is free from intrusion and not a bathroom—for new mothers to express breastmilk for two years after the need arises.

The bill impacts the estimated 9 million working mothers who were not covered by the 2010 Break Time for Nursing Mothers Act, which was passed under the Fair Labor Standards Act. 

The PUMP Act does not apply to companies with 25 or fewer employees if compliance would create an undue hardship. The bill is supported by SHRM, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the National Women’s Law Center, among other organizations.

Federal Guidance Encourages Union Membership

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued new guidance last week urging federal agencies to inform prospective employees, new hires and current federal workers about their collective bargaining rights and the unions operating at their organizations.

OPM announced the guidance at a White House event with Vice President Kamala Harris, who said the administration seeks to remove barriers to joining a union.

OPM issued separate guidance directing federal agencies to communicate regularly with federal workers regarding collective bargaining rights and how to contact their unions.

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Advancing Workplace Issues in 2021

SHRM is proud to be working with several organizations to highlight workplace issues in 2021. They include Fratelli Group, NAICU, Palladian Hill Strategies, Seyfarth Shaw LLP and Viatris.

As the Voice of All Things Work, SHRM pursues nonpartisan public policy to promote flexible, inclusive and equitable workplaces that help business thrive as talent is tapped, trained and empowered to reach its full potential. Policy not politics.

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