As vaccine nears, employers consider making it mandatory

Despite the minefield, Johnny Taylor Jr., president of the Society for Human Resource Management, predicts many employers will opt for mandates, more now than he would have guessed several months ago. Employers have an obligation to get rid of known hazards in the workplace, he says, and COVID-19 has proven to be a hazard unlike any other.

“It’s real, and it’s devastating,” he says. “So, I think the dynamic changes. Employers are actually going to position this as, I need to do this, full stop.”

That has been Smith’s position even as she’s struggled to keep her restaurant alive. Before the pandemic, Cafe Juanita had 28 employees. She’s had to lay off all but five as her fine dining spot has become a takeout-only business…

Even with a much smaller staff, Smith follows strict safety protocols, including requiring that her workers get tested if they go on vacation with people outside their bubble or if they’re showing any sign of illness.

“I believe in civil liberties,” she says. “But we have people who live with their parents. We have people who live with a husband who has diabetes. There are people who have immunocompromised folks in their immediate bubble.”