US employers losing patience with unvaccinated workers.

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For months, most employers relied on information campaigns, bonuses and other incentives to encourage their workforces to get vaccinated for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). Now, a growing number are imposing rules to make it more onerous for employees to refuse, from outright mandates to requiring the unvaccinated to undergo regular testing.

Among employers getting tougher are the federal government, the state governments of California and New York, tech giants Google and Facebook, the Walt Disney Co. and the NFL Some hospitals, universities, restaurants, bars and other entertainment venues have also started requiring vaccines.

 

BlackRock, the global investment manager, is allowing only vaccinated workers into its U.S. offices for now and said people will be free to go maskless, as local health guidelines allow, and sit next to each other and congregate without restrictions. The firm said 85% of its U.S. employees are vaccinated or in the process of getting shots.

Matthew Putman, CEO of New York-based high-tech manufacturing hub Nanotronics, said he agonized over his decision to impose a vaccine mandate on his more than 100 employees. As it turned out, nearly all of them were already vaccinated, though he dreads the prospect of having to fire any holdouts.

“I hate the thought. But if it has to happen it has to happen,” Putman said. “I lost a ton of sleep over this but not as much sleep as I’ve lost over the fear of infection.”

Other mandates could provide a clearer test of the potential for employee backlash.

Hospitals and nursing home chains, for instance, are increasingly requiring the vaccine. So far, such mandates have survived legal challenges. More than 150 employees at a Houston hospital system who refused to get the Covid-19 shot were fired or resigned after a judge dismissed an employee lawsuit over the requirement.

Atria Senior Living, which operates more than 200 senior living communities across the country, was among the first to mandate vaccines for its staff in January.

It worked. Nearly 99 percent of Atria’s 10,000 employees are vaccinated, and only a tiny fraction quit over the requirement, said CEO and Chairman John Moore.

“Our residents deserve to live in a vaccinated environment. Our staff deserves to work in a vaccinated environment,” Moore said.

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