Stellantis suspends jab mandate amid high vaccination rates

What alternatives could be taken to keep workplaces safe?

Stellantis suspends jab mandate amid high vaccination rates

Automaker Stellantis has announced that their suspending their vaccine mandate for workers based in the United States, following the high rate of compliance among staff. The company enforced the vaccine mandate last January 5, with a threat to terminate workers if they remain non-compliant with the requirement, CNBC reported. By then, nearly 80% of the company's salaried workforce were already vaccinated, according to the company.

This figure escalated to more than 97%, based on the latest announcement from Stellantis, which it cited as reason for suspending its jab mandate.

"With more than 97% of our U.S. salaried non-represented workforce in compliance or with an approved exemption - the company has decided to suspend the full implementation of the vaccine mandate," Stellantis said in a statement quoted by Reuters.

Stellantis spokesperson Jodi Tinson said in a statement, however, that the company is still encouraging unvaccinated staff to get the jabs, and the eligible ones to get the booster shots.

"We continue to encourage all employees to get vaccinated and, when eligible, boosted as the most effective way to prevent serious COVID-19 illness," said Tinson in a statement quoted by Detroit News. "We will continue to monitor the situation and the guidance of public health authorities to make any modifications necessary to ensure we are doing everything we can to protect our workforce."

The automaker's announcement came after various major companies, such as Starbucks, also declared that they are taking back their vaccine mandate to staff, after the Supreme Court blocked the OSHA mandate for large employers. More than one-third of employers in the US, however, still plan to implement the policy, according to companies polled by Gertner Inc.

Read more: 'No recourse' for employees who lost jobs because of vaccine mandates, lawyer says

Vaccine mandates and the role of HR

Even without vaccine mandates in place, employers could still implement alternative measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in workplaces. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued the following tips to help keep workplaces safe from COVID-19:

  1. Facilitate employees getting vaccinated. This includes giving them time off while they get vaccinated and recover from the possible side effects. Employers should also consider coordinating with local public health authorities to bring the jabs to the workplace for unvaccinated workers.
  2. Instruct any workers who are infected, unvaccinated workers who have had close contact with someone who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, and all workers with COVID-19 symptoms to stay home from work. This includes implementing non-punitive absence policies and revising instructions that could potentially encourage staff to report to work even if they are sick. 
  3. Implement physical distancing in all communal work areas for unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk workers. Maintaining a minimum of six feet of distance between employees is recommended.
  4. Provide workers with face coverings or surgical masks, as appropriate, unless their work task requires a respirator or other PPE. Even fully vaccinated workers are encouraged to wear them especially in indoor settings where substantial or high transmission of cases could potentially occur.
  5. Educate and train workers on your COVID-19 policies and procedures using accessible formats and in languages they understand. Train managers on how to implement COVID-19 policies and how to communicate them clearly and frequently.
  6. Suggest or require that unvaccinated customers, visitors, or guests wear face coverings in public-facing workplaces. This covers retail establishments, where a notice could be posted suggesting the use of face coverings.
  7. Maintain Ventilation Systems.
  8. Perform routine cleaning and disinfection.
  9. Record and report COVID-19 infections and deaths. Employers are required to report work-related cases of COVID-19 to OSHA and to local health departments for contact tracing efforts.
  10. Implement protections from retaliation and set up an anonymous process for workers to voice concerns about COVID-19-related hazards. Ensure that workers know whom to contact with questions or concerns about workplace safety and health, and that there are prohibitions against retaliation for raising workplace safety and health concerns.

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