Whiplash! Changing Regulatory Mandates for COVID
In a 6-3 vote, the court recently rejected President Biden’s plan to require vaccines or regular COVID testing at companies with over 100 workers. So how does this affect your HR department?
Recent regulation changes: Confusion for corporations
The mandate was one of the most notable attempts by Biden’s administration to try and address the pandemic as Omicron cases rise in the U.S., with more than 800,000 new cases reported daily. Blocking it was a serious blow to the Biden administration’s plan to address the COVID-19 virus and left American companies and businesses to determine their own policies, colored by varying state laws and mandates.
Following the ruling, Biden said, “I call on business leaders to immediately join those who have already stepped up – including one third of Fortune 100 companies – and institute vaccination requirements to protect their workers, customers, and communities.”
The organizations that have already instituted their mandates include major companies such as United Airlines and Tyson Foods.
In fact, United Airlines was one of the first large corporations to impose a vaccine mandate. As CEO Scott Kirby explained to Bloomberg Opinion, he told 67,000 U.S. employees that they would lose their jobs if they weren’t vaccinated by September 27th. Of course, his number one risk was how much staffing he would lose – instead, roughly 99.7% of United’s workforce was vaccinated by the end of November.
Yet three of the largest employers in the country, Walmart, Amazon, and JPMorgan Chase, have not issued requirements for their employees – and many others are quiet on the issue as they decide which way to lean.
Some smaller companies that decided to require vaccinations or testing feel frustrated by the Supreme Court ruling, as they feel they don’t have federal support for their mandates.
On the other hand, just days after the ruling, the world’s largest coffeehouse chain, Starbucks, reversed its policy requiring its American workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19. “We respect the court’s ruling and will comply,” Starbucks COO John Culver wrote in the memo sent to employees.
Losing employees at a time like this, when the Great Resignation has already caused various consequences, from revenue loss to costs of new technology, may not be an option.
The need for HR agility
What does all this mean? In short, it means that whether or not you choose to impose a vaccine mandate in your organization, your HR department needs to be exceedingly agile to keep up with these changing policies. Let alone with other demands, such as COVID vaccination tracking.
At this point in 2022, your HR department has already dealt with pivoting to some measure. They had to transition from traditional workspaces to hybrid and remote work. From remote onboarding to new (and improved?) security risks, the world has now accepted hybrid work environments as the new normal.
The disruptive impacts of undetected risks could potentially sink your business. As we head into a new year, these evolving COVID regulations reinforce the need for you to stay agile to recover from the risks presented over the past two years and deal with upcoming challenges and minimize their impact on your organization.
One of the most effective ways to prepare yourself for the future is to have an agile and comprehensive governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) initiative in place. Discover what three GRC priorities you should have at the top of your list for 2022.