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PH companies not in a rush to mandate COVID-19 vaccination among employees

Majority of Philippine companies are not in a rush to mandate COVID-19 vaccination among employees, citing employers’ concerns about the safety of the vaccines as one of the major reasons for it.

A Mercer survey conducted in February 2021 revealed that Philippine employers are not rushing to make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory, with only 2 percent deciding to implement a mandate and 68 percent not even considering it.

Mercer is a business arm of Marsh McLennan (NYSE: MMC), the world’s leading professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy, and people.

When asked why the Philippine companies would not mandate the vaccination, the top two reasons were employee concerns about vaccine safety (68 percent) and compliance with employment labor and human rights legislation (54 percent).

While employers are aligned with the position of governments, almost half (41 percent) cited concerns about potential liability should an employee has a bad reaction to the vaccine.

Although offering incentives are less controversial than mandating vaccinations, only 2 percent of respondents have decided to provide incentives in the form of cash, gift card, or spending account contribution in order to encourage employees to be vaccinated.

49 percent will definitely not provide a financial incentive, while 41 percent say it is yet to be determined.

However, one in four have stated that they will provide additional time off for employees to get vaccinated (26 percent for salaried employees and 23 percent for hourly) and about 15 percent will provide additional sick leave in case employees experience side effects from the vaccine (14 percent for salaried employees, 15 percent for hourly).

“Given that the major issues surrounding the vaccination rollout are vaccine safety and human rights legislation, it’s not surprising that most respondents opted not to offer any form of incentive to respect their employees’ personal decision,” Teng Alday, Mercer’s chief executive officer for the Philippines, said.

“The decision to receive the vaccine ultimately boils down to trust. And employers play a critical role in educating and sharing accurate information with employees, including facts about the benefits of the vaccines, company policies, and insurance coverage,” she added.

Alday then pointed out that communication will be vital in helping employees decide whether or not to get the shot.

In this regard, Philippine employers are stepping up. More than two-thirds of respondents said that they have or are developing communications plans.

More than half of the respondents stated they will encourage employees to get vaccinated, although only 17 percent said they will “strongly encourage”.

While almost half (48 percent) will only provide information and emphasize that vaccinations are a personal choice, 29 percent said they will share leadership vaccine experiences to help overcome vaccine hesitancy.

“It’s heartening to note that employers are actively communicating the benefits of the vaccine (93 percent), details about access (76 percent) as well as company policies (66 percent),” Alday said.

However, less than half (47 percent) say they are sharing details about insurance coverage or the reimbursement approach.

“This could be due in part to a lack of clarity or information at the moment but is absolutely critical information that employees need to know, be it details on claims or benefits with respect to the COVID-19 vaccination or its potential effects,” Alday said. Meanwhile, only 13 percent of respondents have begun discussions with public health officials, health plans, or other vendors about facilitating the delivery and administration of the vaccine to employees.

With the Philippines expecting to receive at least 157 million vaccine doses developed by Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Sinovac, Moderna, Novavax, Gamaleya Research Institute, and Johnson & Johnson in 2021, this option will be pursued by 72 percent of the respondents once vaccines are more widely available.

“Businesses have an obligation to provide a healthy and safe workplace, and each company has its own set of risks and responsibilities. Employers and employees should work together to determine whether a reasonable accommodation can be made based on job function, and whether there is the flexibility that would make vaccination less critical,” Alday further said.

“What’s vital is that employers set appropriate expectations about returning to the office and the need for precautions and safe practices like wearing masks and social distancing. Even as the number of individuals being vaccinated increases, various forms of public health restrictions will still be in place until we see herd immunity in our communities,” she added.

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Credit belongs to : www.mb.com.ph

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