Soon, all US companies that employ over 100 people will need their employees to either show proof of vaccination or weekly negative COVID tests before being able to work. This mandate will clearly present some challenges to companies’ day-to-day operations.
While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is still working out the details of the policy, you will need to start planning now so you can implement your solution quickly when the mandate is finalized. Your WFM system will be a vital component in meeting its two intended outcomes:
- Providing your unvaccinated employees with a fair opportunity to get vaccinated
- Complying with the new testing rules going forward
Providing Unvaccinated Employees with an Opportunity to Get Vaccinated
The new rules will encourage many employees who are not yet vaccinated to do so. And while the policy is expected to compel companies to provide paid time off for employees, many companies are already doing this today, including some of Axsium’s Fortune 500 clients. The question is: what role should your WFM solution play in making this program work?
Axsium recommends using accruals to provide employees with paid time off. Some organizations will create a new category of accruals (alongside your existing codes for sick leave, vacation days, etc.) and require that vaccination-related time off is logged against that specific code. Others will add hours for all employees in their general accounts. You will need to decide which approach works best for your organization, and whether to provide a full day of time-off or a few hours.
Complying with the New Vaccination Rules Using Your WFM System
Enforcing the new rules is another challenge you will need to overcome using your WFM system. You will need to:
- Track which employees have provided proof of vaccination
- Maintain a log of your unvaccinated employees’ weekly negative tests
- Prevent unvaccinated employees who do not have a recent negative test from clocking in
Axsium’s Jamie McManus suggests businesses could consider using employee attestation to collect this data. “The ability for employees to confirm their vaccination or test status is already built into your WFM system today. It’s just a case of adapting how you do things.”
There are questions your organization will need to ask before making these changes. For instance, will your employees declare their vaccination or test status at the beginning or end of a shift?
We strongly suggest that the attestation occurs at the start of a shift. After all, the goal of the new policy is to prevent unvaccinated and untested employees from beginning their shift. From a compliance standpoint, finding out that an employee was untested after their shift is over is the worst possible outcome.
Skills/Certifications is another valuable way of tracking vaccination status and smoothly executing the attestation process. For example, vaccinated employees could continue to clock in as usual, while unvaccinated employees would be prompted to confirm the date of their most recent negative test before punching in.
A Custom Date Field for “Most Recent Negative Test Date” could also prove helpful here. In this case, an employee with a negative test result from a certain date would not be asked to re-confirm their testing status until seven days have passed.
We’ve covered two important ways your WFM system can help your business manage these new vaccination and testing rules. But if and when these policies come into effect, you will have other questions to consider:
- Who will be responsible for approving vaccination-related time off?
- Could you use an employee mobility platform like WorkJam to allow your employees to easily submit evidence of vaccination or negative tests?
- What steps will you take to protect the confidentiality and security of employee health data?
- Will proof of vaccination last forever? Or will you need to periodically refresh it if booster-shots become a requirement?
And lastly, will employers grow weary of the added overhead and management of continuously tracking and updating unvaccinated employees’ test results? Will we see decreased shift coverage among unvaccinated workers?
It’s quite likely unvaccinated employees will occasionally find themselves unable to clock in because they forgot to get tested. Over time, employers may be able to gather data to directly compare the callout rates for vaccinated and unvaccinated employees. Axsium will not be taking a side in this politically-charged conversation, but it is a thought-provoking possibility all the same.
The upcoming policy changes in the US will present some challenges to businesses across the country. Luckily, your WFM system can help you meet many of these head on with only a moderate amount of up-front configuration work.
Axsium is already helping several of the country’s largest and most complex employers build a solution that works for them. We would be happy to do the same for you. Axsium is here to discuss the issues mentioned in this article or other ways your WFM system can help you navigate your team’s vaccination and COVID test status. Please contact us today for your free WFM consultation.