Sep 29, 2021 - Economy

The rise of hiring (and firing) based on vaccination status

Illustration of a briefcase with a vaccination record card in it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Job postings requiring employees to get vaccinated before applying are on the rise, and more and more firms say they'll terminate existing employees who refuse to get the jab.

Why it matters: Corporate America is playing a key role in upping the U.S. vaccination rate. It'll get harder for those who are hesitant to avoid the shot as vaccination status becomes increasingly linked to livelihood.

By the numbers: The share of job postings per million on Indeed that require vaccination spiked 242% in the last month, from about 1,700 to over 4,000. And — while it's clearly a very small amount of total postings it keeps rising.

  • For example, 2% of personal care and home health jobs mandate vaccination, and 1.5% of child care jobs do the same. These are among the sectors with the highest share of postings requiring vaccination.
  • In Arizona, 1.3% of postings required vaccinations — more than any other state.
  • "Some companies may also be requiring vaccination but not listing it in the job description," Indeed economist AnnElizabeth Konkel says. "Given that vaccination has become political, some employers may ponder whether or not to write it into the job description."
  • The share of job searches on Indeed in which applicants are explicitly looking for roles that don't require vaccination is up 20-fold in the last month. The bulk of those searches are for health care jobs that aren't mandating vaccines, Konkel says.

What's happening: The government is stepping in too. Expect more companies to mention vaccines in job posts as the forthcoming government rules on vaccines at work become more clear.

  • The Biden administration has directed the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to develop a temporary rule that'll require companies with 100 or more employees to either require vaccination or implement weekly testing. Such a rule would affect 80 million U.S. workers.
  • For some jobs, testing won't be enough. The government is set to put vaccination requirements in place for all health care workers. On top of that, most federal employees and millions of government contractors already have been told they must get the vaccine.
  • A federal appeals court ruled Monday that New York City can require all its teachers to be vaccinated — their deadline for the first dose is Friday.

State of play: Many companies are raising questions, like who will pay for testing and how OSHA will determine which businesses must comply. And several Republican lawmakers are encouraging businesses to push back or openly rebel.

But many other firms already have — and are continuing to — move forward with vaccine mandates.

  • The list includes Google, Facebook, Netflix, Walt Disney Co., Morgan Stanley, Lyft and The Washington Post.
  • Per a new Gartner survey of legal and human resources officers at companies across the country, 46% of firms plan to issue vaccine mandates, while 36% say they're still unsure and 17% say they won't issue mandates.
  • 15% of companies said they'd fire workers who refuse to get the shot.

What's next: New vaccination rules may add to the "great resignation." Some 69% of firms fear increased turnover with vaccine mandates, per Gartner.

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