What Employers Need To Know About Vaccination Requirements Following U.S. Supreme Court’s OSHA Decision

January 24, 2022


Jennifer Wessel, JD, MPH
Senior Policy Analyst and Data Privacy Officer

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On Jan. 13, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) COVID-19 vaccination and testing emergency temporary standard, pending further review before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The decision halts OSHA’s vaccination and testing requirements for large employers, leaving the decision up to employers. Some employers have already implemented or intend to implement vaccination requirements, while others are backtracking from previously implemented requirements. Here is list of a few companies and how they are handling vaccination policies.

United Airlines was the first major airline to implement a vaccine requirement for its U.S.-based employees. In a memo to employees, CEO Scott Kirby and President Brett Hart stated, “We have no greater responsibility to you and your colleagues than to ensure your safety when you’re at work, and the facts are crystal clear: everyone is safer when everyone is vaccinated.”

Tyson Foods requires all of its team members to be fully vaccinated. The company is offering $200 to fully vaccinated frontline team members and giving out more than $6 million in sweepstakes to incentivize vaccinations. The company is also offering additional benefits to fully vaccinated workers, such as 20 hours of paid sick leave.

Carhartt has a mandatory vaccine program that went into effect Jan. 4, with extensions allowed for some locations. In an email to employees, CEO Mark Valade wrote, “we put workplace safety a the very top of our priority list and the Supreme Court’s recent ruling doesn’t impact that core value. We, and the medical community, continue to believe vaccines are necessary to ensure a safe working environment for every associate and even perhaps their households.”

Walmart made the decision to require all market, regional, and divisional associates who work in multiple facilities and all campus office associates to be vaccinated by Oct. 4, 2021. Walmart urges all employees to be vaccinated and has offered incentives including $150 and paid time off to get vaccinated.

Amazon does not require its employees to be vaccinated but offers them strong incentives to do so. In the U.S., Amazon offers a $40-per-dose incentive for frontline employees and a $100 sign-on bonus for fully vaccinated new hires. Amazon also launched the “Max Your Vax” sweepstakes featuring nearly $2 million in prizes for eligible employees.

Delta does not require employees to be vaccinated, but it disincentivizes those who are not. Unvaccinated employees enrolled in Delta’s account-based healthcare plan are subject to a $200 monthly surcharge. In addition, COVID pay protection, which doesn’t require an employee to use standard company sick leave, is only provided to fully vaccinated individuals who are experiencing a breakthrough infection. U.S. employees who are not fully vaccinated are required to test each week while community case rates are high. Delta CEO Ed Bastian wrote, “We’ve always known that vaccinations are the most effective tool to keep our people safe and healthy in the face of this global health crisis. That’s why we’re taking additional, robust actions to increase our vaccination rate.”

Walt Disney implemented a mandate last year for all on-site U.S. salaried and non-union hourly employees to be fully vaccinated. It has since dropped this requirement for Florida-based employees, citing a Florida law banning employers from requiring vaccinations.

Though the Supreme Court stayed enforcement of the OSHA mandate, the court upheld the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ vaccination requirement for healthcare workers at hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities receiving Medicare and Medicaid funding. In the 24 states subject to the court ruling, including Arkansas, the deadline to vaccinate workers has been extended.

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