By: Jennifer Thomas, CRP
Senior Vice President, Global Business Solutions
While the global mobility industry has enjoyed a busy summer, as compared to 2020, the threat of COVID variants, mask mandates, quarantine standards and now vaccine requirements threaten to disrupt our “return to normal.”
With so many questions and few protocols for global pandemics in our playbooks – let’s break those down a bit today.
Can companies mandate vaccines?
According to a SHRM article, August 12, 2021, "Consensus in the legal community has been that employers may require at-will employees to be vaccinated, subject to accommodations that may be required for medical or religious reasons," said Kevin Troutman, an attorney with Fisher Phillips in Houston, Texas and Richard Meneghello, an attorney with Fisher Phillips in Portland, Oregon.
If employers are able to require vaccines for return to work, it may make sense for many to require vaccines for those who will travel on behalf of company business. However, data from a quick LinkedIn poll indicates that many industries (inclusive of global mobility) haven’t yet set those requirements for business travel. 52% indicate vaccines will not be required for business travel and 26% say no decision has been made.
So how do we manage business travel?
Varying national (and state/city) approaches to vaccinations and inconsistent country and state legislation means that employee's access to vaccines depends on their current location. Requirements by varying states/cities/countries need to be tracked by HR/global mobility so you and your employee know what to expect. Recent research by Towergate Health and Protections highlights the need for employers to monitor guidance in any location where they have or want to locate employees- even for business travel.
What should I be thinking about re: my policies and programs?
Employees crossing borders and having access to different vaccines, all while country-specific vaccine related legislation varies, may impact their ability to travel or quarantine requirements. It is important for employers to be aware of any additional costs or travel delays that may be incurred if the vaccination status of the mobile employees does not match the destination country criteria. Additionally, work closely with your HR department to ensure your policies and programs match the company stance on vaccines and travel.
How should I help my business travelers?
To gain insights into how to safeguard your business travelers, download our guide and checklist.