Some businesses welcome Biden’s vaccination mandate while others worry about the costs, effects on worker shortages

U.S. businesses are giving a mixed reception to President Biden’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate for firms with 100 or more employees, with many larger companies or their trade groups welcoming the directive even as smaller businesses are bristling.

Some companies say the order imposes yet another burden that could intensify historic worker shortages and supply-chain bottlenecks.

Meanwhile, details such as precisely how the plan will be carried out and who bears the costs will likely remain unclear until the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issues an “emergency temporary standard” that will implement the requirement, legal experts say.

The order is expected to cover about 80 million private-sector workers and the vast majority of about 4 million federal workers.

On Thursday, Biden ordered firms with 100 or more employees to ensure their workers are vaccinated or tested at least weekly for COVID-19. A separate executive order will require vaccinations for federal workers in the executive branch and contractors.

Many large companies are taking the mandate in stride because they already were putting in place their own vaccine policies or strongly considering doing so, says Kathryn Bakich, health compliance practice leader at Segal, an employee benefits consulting firm.

A handful of corporate giants such as United Airlines, McDonald’s, and Walt Disney imposed employee vaccination mandates on some or all of their workers in the spring. In turn, other large and midsize firms followed with similar policies this summer or moved to seriously consider them.

“I don’t think there’s anybody that’s not talking about it” says Bakich, whose clients are generally large companies.

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