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Survey Report

COVID-19 Vaccination and Reopening the Workplace Survey

Highlights of key findings, United States

June 23, 2021

U.S. employers encourage but do not require employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Discover the range of actions by organizations to safely reopen the workplace and support employee wellbeing.
Health and Benefits|Employee Experience|Ευεξία

About the respondents

Research findings are based on responses from 660 U.S. employers representing 5.3 million workers. The survey was fielded between May 19 and May 28, 2021.

Respondent profile

Manufacturing 27%, general services 15%, wholesale and retail 12%, IT and telecom 12%, health care 11%,
financial services 11%, energy and utilities 8%, and public sector and education 6%
Respondents by industry.

Respondent profile:

  • 33% for profit, publicly traded
  • 51% for profit, private
  • 13% non-profit or government
  • 3% other


U.S. employers encourage COVID-19 vaccination among employees but stop short of requiring the vaccine

The May 2021 COVID-19 Vaccination and Reopening the Workplace Survey examines employer actions and policies regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, the reopening of the workplace for employees currently working remotely and paid time off programs.

While not requiring vaccinations to enter the workplace, employers are taking a range of actions to encourage employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine. To make it easy to get vaccinated, organizations are offering scheduling flexibility (86%), and providing pay for time spent getting the vaccine (55%) as well as additional leave for adverse reactions to the vaccine (51%). More than a third (37%) offer onsite or near-site vaccine administration for workers. In addition, many employers are communicating the value of the vaccine (82%) and developing programs targeting employee groups with lower vaccination rates (40%).

It’s expected that employers will adapt policies on reopening the physical workplace to changing conditions. For example, while many employers currently require both vaccinated (52%) and unvaccinated (69%) employees to wear masks indoors, they will likely relax mask policies as infection risk decreases and local guidelines evolve.

Our findings make clear that employers are committed to boosting employee wellbeing and ensuring workplace safety as they move to a post-pandemic future.

Highlights and trends

Employers encourage but do not require COVID-19 vaccinations
  • Most employers (72%) will not require nor plan to require employees to be vaccinated to enter the workplace. Among the 28% requiring or considering requiring vaccinations, 56% would require proof of vaccination.
  • Nearly one in 10 employers (9%) require or are looking to require vaccination as a condition of employment for subsets of the employee population. These employers include employees in occupations where the risk of infection is greater (53%) and customer-facing employees (45%).
    In addition, nearly one in five (19%) will require or are considering requiring vaccinations for certain workplace privileges, such as indoor gyms and cafeterias.
  • More than a third of employers (37%) keep track of employees who have completed their COVID-19 vaccination, while another 20% are planning or considering doing so. Nearly all respondents (91%) believe that over 50% of their employees will be vaccinated by the end of 2021.

Employers are encouraging COVID-19 vaccinations among employees by:
Making it easy
  • More than six in 10 employers (62%) provide or are considering providing pay for time spent getting vaccinated. The paid time that these employers are offering or are looking to offer varies, with 35% offering three to four hours, 11% five to eight hours and 25% eight hours or more.
  • Almost three-fifths (58%) offer or are considering offering additional leave for adverse reactions to the vaccine. Among these employers, over half (54%) offer or are looking to offer additional leave until symptoms subside.
  • Over two-fifths (41%) perform or are planning onsite or near-site vaccine administration. Over three-fifths of these employers (65%) have created or will create a temporary onsite or near-site hub to deliver vaccine to employees, while over two-fifths (46%) use or will use their onsite or near-site clinic.
  • Over a third (37%) cover or are considering covering the cost of COVID-19 vaccines for employees not enrolled in their health plan.
  • More than eight in 10 (82%) employers communicate the value of vaccination.
Targeting underserved populations
  • 40% have implemented programs to boost vaccination among populations less likely to get vaccinated, and another 21% are considering doing so.
Offering financial incentives
  • One in five employers offer or are considering offering financial incentives to encourage employees to get vaccinated. Over half of these employers (55%) offer or are looking to offer incentives of $100 or less.

To support employee safety and wellbeing as the workplace reopens, employers are also focused on:
Mask requirements in the workplace
  • A majority of employers require both vaccinated (52%) and unvaccinated (69%) employees to wear masks indoors. We expect that employers will relax mask policies as risk decreases and local guidelines evolve.
Temperature screenings
  • Three-fifths of employers (60%) are doing temperature screenings. Of those, 66% plan to continue and 34% to discontinue this practice in the next few months.
Testing and tracing
  • Four-fifths of organizations (80%) use workplace contact tracing to alert employees to a potential exposure.
  • Roughly one-fifth of employers (18%) offer testing to employees at the workplace. Of those, only 22% test every employee working onsite/in-person, and over half (56%) test fewer than 25% of these employees. Close to a third of employers (30%) that offer workplace testing say they do so on a regular basis and, of those, 45% test employees weekly.
  • Of those that are self-insured, approximately 4 in 5 (79%) waive out-of-pocket testing costs and 2 in 5 (40%) waive out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 treatment.
Holidays/personal days
  • Most employers (74%) that added designated holidays or personal days during the pandemic will continue to offer them in 2021.

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