In Friday’s edition of The Dispatch, I shared an excerpt of a company memo I sent to my 35 employees on Thursday. In that memo, I explained that I was seriously considering a company-wide vaccine mandate, primarily due to how disruptive continued COVID-related absences are to our business.
To be honest, I was nervous about sending the memo to my employees, much less sharing it with the general public. Beginning immediately after the column was posted online Friday morning and continuing into Saturday, I was stunned as I received a steady stream of texts and emails from people thanking me for sharing the memo.
I don’t personally know everyone who reached out to me, but of the ones I know, I can say they represent a broad spectrum of political ideologies: conservative, liberal, centrist. With the exception of one person who called a vaccine mandate “fascist,” all I heard from supported such a requirement.
Many were business owners themselves and said a vaccine mandate is something they had been considering for some time. Nearly all of the business owners I heard from told me about the dramatic impact COVID had on their operations.
Multiple employees emailed me immediately and thanked me for even considering a vaccine mandate; one even went ahead and sent a photo of her vaccine card.
Perhaps most importantly, one unvaccinated employee made an appointment to get the shot.
A health mandate of any sort is not in my nature. Generally speaking, I’m opposed to telling people how to handle their health. A few years ago, an employee came to me and asked if I would purchase some Tylenol to add to our company’s first aid kit. I said no, because I don’t think an employer should provide or suggest medication, even when it’s as common as Tylenol.
COVID-19, though, has consistently negatively affected my business for 18 months.
It has caused our product to suffer in multiple ways.
It makes many of my employees scared to come to work.
It threatens continued quarantines, especially among my unvaccinated employees.
It can be prevented with safe vaccines which are 90-plus percent effective and available for free.
For these reasons, I will implement the following policies at The Commercial Dispatch this week:
- No later than Oct. 15, 2021, all full-time and part-time employees must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or obtain an approved exemption as an accommodation.
- We will consider an employee fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the second of a two-dose vaccine or two weeks after receiving a single-dose vaccine.
- Full time employees who can prove that all members of their household over the age of 12 have been fully vaccinated by Oct. 15, 2021, will receive eight additional hours of vacation leave this year. Part time employees who prove the same will receive a bonus equivalent to eight hours of pay.
- Employees who are not fully vaccinated by the deadline will be placed on unpaid leave and will be subject to termination.
- New hires will be required to be fully vaccinated prior to starting.
Much has been said about “getting back to work.” For The Commercial Dispatch, “getting back to work” includes being fully vaccinated. I’m looking forward to Oct. 15.
This column has been edited since original publication.
Peter Imes is publisher of The Dispatch. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.