Tracking vaccination status in the workplace helps companies ensure compliance with government mandates, but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee employee confidence.
That’s because the vast majority of vaccination tracking efforts are based on the honor system, which, as the Wall Street Journal explains, is “one in which health information is often given voluntarily, and employees have few ways to be sure their co-workers are following the rules.”
When faced with poor transparency and lax enforcement around vaccination policies, some employees are choosing to join the “Great Resignation” rather than endure the anxiety of returning to in-person worksites under unknown health risk factors. That's why it's becoming more critical than ever for employers to upgrade from the honor system to a more robust and accountable COVID-19 vaccination tracking process.
Let's walk through the vaccination tracking challenges faced by employers before and after the FDA's approval of the first COVID-19 vaccine, and then discuss where to start with building a truly strong workplace vaccination policy.
Vaccine hesitation in uncharted territory
Back when the vaccines were only available under emergency use authorization, it was not a big surprise that employers weren't exactly rushing to impose vaccination and testing mandates.
Even though a August 2021 survey by Mercer revealed that 65% of workers want their employer to mandate vaccinations, few businesses were eager to risk a potential lawsuit or deal with the headache of hiring new workers should unvaccinated employees choose to quit due to medical reasons or political or religious beliefs.
There’s also the matter of the costs required to implement a vaccination and testing program with actual teeth. While it’s quick, easy, and virtually free to establish a “you only have to wear a mask if you’re unvaccinated” policy based on the honor system, it takes significantly more resources to require employees to provide documentation confirming vaccination status or weekly test results. Since there were no governmental vaccination mandates up until recently due to the vaccines’ emergency use authorization status, there wasn’t much to compel employers to expend the necessary resources.
FDA vaccine approval flips the switch
Once the FDA approved the first COVID-19 vaccine, the floodgates opened to vaccination mandates across the United States. At the state level, many governors ordered vaccination and testing for K-12 school employees, and at the federal level, President Biden instituted a new OSHA rule that requires vaccinations or weekly testing for workers at private companies with 100+ employees. Businesses that do not comply could face OSHA fines of up to $14,000 per violation.
What this means is that worries over employee lawsuits have now been replaced by worries over fines and penalties for non-compliance. In addition, companies must grapple with the possibility of not only losing unvaccinated employees – but vaccinated employees, as well.
Backed by the clout of FDA authorization and governmental mandates, many vaccinated employees at in-person worksites are now expecting more from their employer when it comes to fostering a safe working environment. Instead of the honor system, these employees want to see employers offering stronger measures, such as:
- Disclosure of the number of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated workers at worksites
- Assurance that employees and visitors forgoing masks have been confirmed as vaccinated
- Clear processes for enforcing weekly testing of unvaccinated workers
- Contact tracing infrastructure to handle positive cases
How to build strong, accountable COVID-19 workplace policies and procedures
Workplace COVID-19 policies and procedures should ideally accomplish three key goals:
- Prevent the spread of disease in the workplace
- Comply with mandates to avoid fines and penalties
- Reduce employee anxiety about workplace safety
Of course, even with vaccination mandates on the rise and vaccinated employees feeling more confident in demanding safer pandemic workplace policies, that doesn’t change the resource cost of implementing a robust vaccination and testing program.
When you’re dealing with hundreds or thousands of employees, manually checking paper CDC record cards and enforcing weekly testing of unvaccinated employees is simply not a feasible option. Combine these challenges with tight deadlines for complying with governmental mandates, it quickly becomes clear that automating these procedures as much as possible will be critical.
That’s exactly what BP Logix is helping employers do with the Vaccine Tracker App.
This secure, mobile-friendly application enables employees to easily upload proof of their vaccination status or test results, while providing administrators with a reporting dashboard to manage enforcement and access proof of compliance should OSHA come a-knocking.
Ready to strengthen employee confidence in workplace COVID-19 policies?
Get in touch with BP Logix today for a customized demo of the Vaccine Tracker app.