Clark County employers uncertain of impact of federal vaccine, testing mandates

Large Clark County employers are uncertain of what sweeping federal coronavirus vaccine and testing mandates will entail though some are already pushing for their employees to get vaccinated.

Private businesses that employ 100 or more people will be asked to require that their workers be vaccinated against COVID-19 or be tested on a weekly bases.

That mandate was announced by President Joe Biden this month and those businesses that do not comply could face fines of up to $14,000.

However, there are still a lot of unanswered questions that has caused confusion and uncertainty among local employers. That includes how the testing requirement would be implement as well as the potential financial impact that those mandates will have on businesses.

The financial concerns relate mostly to the proposed mandatory testing requirement.

Mike McDorman, the president and CEO of the Greater Springfield Partnership, said it is still unclear if there will be federal assistance to businesses regarding the implementation of the mandates.

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McDorman added that businesses are in the process of figuring out how they will coordinate weekly testing or make sure their employees are vaccinated or get vaccinated against COVID-19.

He noted that there has not been a set date as to when those businesses would be required to carryout the mandates and its comes at a time when those employers are continuing to fill open positions.

“Any uncertainty in that just adds to the challenges our businesses face in trying to hire and retain employees,” McDorman said.

Jamie Karl, spokesman with the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, previously told this news organization that the mandate would apply to nearly one third of its 1,500 members.

He said most companies are encouraging employees to get vaccinated for the sake of business continuity. But they are concerned about the added cost of a federal mandate.

“Employers should have the right to determine what’s best for their workforce,” Karl said.

Linda Recupero, a spokesperson for Assurant, which employs 1,600 people in Clark County, said that the New York based company is reviewing the nature of the pending mandates and is “watching closely for further details on what the final rule will entail, but our decisions will continue to be based on what is best for the health, safety and well-being of our employees.”

“We have and continue to strongly encourage our employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine,” she said.

There is still a number of local Assuant employees that are working remotely and it is unclear when they will be called back to the office.

The global provider of risk management products and services had originally planned on initiating new work arrangements on Sept. 7, including the phased reentry of some employees back to the office.

“However, given the increase in COVID-19 cases, we discouraged a return to the office on that date, unless there was a critical business or employee need,” Recupero said in an email to the News-Sun.

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“Because the health and safety of our employees is our top priority, we will continue to monitor the case development across the U.S. to determine when to allow for a more substantial ‘return to office.’ In the meantime, the vast majority of our Springfield employees will continue to work virtually.”

Kate Seegraves, the communication manager for Silfex, which employs over 200 people in Springfield, said the company plans on complying with the new federal regulations related to vaccinations and testing.

“When the U.S. Department of Labor publishes its new federal safety regulations related to the President’s recent pronouncement that private-sector employers with more than 100 employees require proof of vaccination or weekly testing for COVID-19, we intend to comply with those regulations,” she said.

Silfex is a wholly owned subsidiary of Lam Research, based in California, and has manufacturing facilities in Springfield and Eaton.

“In the coming weeks, we will ask our employees, contractors, and other workforce members to disclose their COVID-19 vaccination status in compliance with Lam’s own company policies, government safety regulations, and our customers’ and suppliers’ health and safety requirements,” Seegraves said.

Reporters Josh Sweigart and Jordan Laird contributed to this report.

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