Corporate America to workers: Get vaccinated or get out

After months of reluctance, Corporate America is taking a stand on keeping its returning workers safe. A growing number of companies are requiring vaccinations for employees and in some cases, for clients and customers.

Most companies are allowing for very rare religious and health exemptions, of course. But the “I read something scary on Facebook” excuse doesn’t apply anymore.

Netflix (NFLX) is the first studio to mandate the vaccine. All actors who star in the streaming giant’s programming and the employees who come in contact with them must have the shot.
Wall Street offices are filling up fast. And vaccines are required. The financial sector says get vaxxed or find a new job. BlackRock (BLK) and Morgan Stanley (MS) announced all employees must be vaccinated to return to the office.
It’s a diverse list. Saks Fifth Avenue, the Washington Post, Ascension Health, and Lyft (LYFT) are also requiring the shot to work.
It’s good business. Johnny Taylor, Jr, of the Society of Human Resource Management, says most employees want vaccine mandates. They want to know their workplace is safe when people return. His polling shows nearly 70% of employees want their colleagues to be vaccinated. And patience has worn thin with the vaccine-hesitant.

“You must be vaccinated if you want to come to work,” he tells me. “There are some organizations that are trying one more step before that. They’re saying, if you choose not to be vaccinated, then you will have to be tested several times during the week on your own dime. And you will have to wear a mask in the workplace and not any mask, but that N95 surgical mask. I mean, we are going to, at the end of the day, make this a little uncomfortable for you because you’re making it uncomfortable and the workplace less comfortable for your colleagues.”

Disney World and Disneyland to again require masks indoors
That’s the case for MGM Grand (MGM). Unvaccinated workers must regularly test for the virus, and if found positive, they will quarantine — without pay.

MGM Resorts CEO Bill Hornbuckle hasn’t mandated the vaccine but has implored workers to get the shot, acknowledging the unvaccinated will hurt business.

“In addition to the heart-wrenching thought of more illness and death, I fear that progressively more restrictive measures, including a return to social distancing and capacity restrictions, could be around the corner if we continue on this path,” Hornbuckle wrote in a letter to employees.

That’s the view from Union Square Hospitality CEO Danny Meyer. He told CNBC Thursday you can’t have full restaurants again without mandates for employees and customers to be vaccinated.

He’s giving workers 45 days to get the shot.

Even the Federal Reserve chief, Jerome Powell, says vaccinations are key to protect the economy from coronavirus variants.

“These strains – there is no reason they can’t keep coming, and one more powerful than the next. We don’t know that, but that’s certainly a plausible outcome. As vaccinations rise we can nonetheless get back to our economic activity,” Powell said Wednesday.

The Delta variant of the virus has many companies tweaking their return to the office plans. Many had hoped to have employees back after Labor Day, now some are pushing back later into the fall. But they are signaling that vaccines will be required.

Plan accordingly.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated Bill Hornbuckle’s title. He is the CEO of MGM Resorts.

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