The US Supreme Court’s rulings on two vaccine employer mandates imposed by the Biden administration are imminent; regardless of the direction the rulings take, businesses must still be ready to keep their workers safe from Covid-19.

The question remains, what do workers themselves expect of their employers? The short answer is: It’s hard to tell.

More than half of workers, 53%, want to see their workplace introduce the proper technology that could record proof of Covid-19 vaccination, according to the second “Return to Work” report from MRI Software, an international provider of real estate and workplace management solutions, and Brivo, a provider of cloud-based access control and smart building technologies. The report includes responses from more than 1,000 people in the US.

Support for employers to track vaccinations reflected broader concerns about health and safety in offices. More than half of respondents, 52%, said they had safety and health concerns about returning to the workplace, but that figure was down from 62% in a previous report in May. There was a clear difference, however, between the type of industries and the level of concern about working on-site. People in professional services were the most apprehensive, with 61% reporting concerns about returning full time. In comparison, just 41% of respondents in the service industry had concerns about returning to the workplace full time.

“The research indicates that health and safety concerns remain a significant barrier to returning to the workplace,” says Brian Zrimsek, industry principal at MRI Software. “There is clearly still a sense of unease among many in the wider workforce. Businesses encouraging a return to offices and other workspaces need the right technologies in place to implement and communicate health and safety measures, ensuring employees can work together in person in a safe environment.”

Waiting It Out

Meanwhile, many employers are biding their time. More than half 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, according to research released from the Society for Human Resource Management.

The survey from late November found 51% are waiting to decide and most respondents, 75%, 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%), managing employee morale (65%), record-keeping requirements (59%), managing employee retention (56%) and staff time associated with implementing the requirements (55%).

A wait-and-see approach may not be in their best interests, however. For a discussion on ways employers should be preparing, see my article from today’s issue of Contingent Workforce Strategies 3.0.

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