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With Two-Thirds of US Workforce Under Vaccine Mandate Soon, Concern Mounts Over Employee Retention

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As more states, cities and private companies enforce vaccine mandates against COVID-19, many unvaccinated workers are at risk of potential job loss. While some 77% of eligible Americans have received at least one dose, White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters last week that thousands of police officers and firefighters in cities like Chicago and Baltimore are at risk of losing their jobs as mandates go into effect, reported Reuters.

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“Fundamentally, what this all is about is about saving lives. It’s about maximizing the opportunity to create a safe workplace,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said on Monday, Reuters added.

Another vaccine mandate for private businesses with 100 or more employees is expected to be finalized soon. Reuters noted that with this new rule and the mandate already in effect for federal workers and contractors, vaccine requirements will cover about 100 million people or two-thirds of the U.S. workforce.

However, employers are concerned that Biden’s mandates will cause workers to quit their jobs amid an already tight labor market. According to a survey from the Society for Human Resource Management released on Monday, 9 in 10 large employers believe part of their workforce will quit because of the mandates, The Hill reported. Additionally, two-thirds of employers surveyed said they cannot afford to pay for weekly COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated employees.

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“Clearly, as we await the federal government’s Emergency Temporary Standard detailing how this mandate is supposed to work, employers and employees are uneasy about the potential for disruptions in the workplace,” Johnny Taylor, CEO of the HR group, said in a statement.

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Last updated: October 20, 2021