More than half of the companies we surveyed now require COVID-19 vaccination to return to the workplace – up from 4 percent in another February survey we conducted– but plans are still evolving about how best to handle those that can’t or won’t be immunized.

Sequoia’s New Workplace Employer Report, which surveyed more than 400 companies mostly in California, found that while 55 percent of companies do require their employees to get vaccinated, another 23 percent do not require a vaccine and another 20 percent are undecided or still considering mandates.

Indeed, companies are still wrestling with how best to address the issue of employees that don’t receive the vaccine.

Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of companies will allow unvaccinated employees who are exempt from receiving the vaccination either for religious or medical reasons to continue working remotely either indefinitely (57 percent) or for a specified amount of time (16 percent).

If non-compliance is a matter of choice, the matter is more complicated, and14 percent are still unsure of how they plan to handle this decision.

But amidst the Great Resignation and a pandemic that is stretching on for longer than expected, there are some signs that companies are trying to be more inclusive of this stance. Only 19 percent said they would terminate an employee for refusing the vaccine, and another 43 percent say they would require a leave of temporary leave of absence.

While many companies initially discussed financial incentives to encourage vaccination, the majority (63 percent) are not offering any, feeling that these perks would not significantly move the needle on employee vaccination rates.

When it comes to testing, only 7 percent of companies require a negative COVID test before entering the office. The largest group, 39 percent, said no one is required to provide proof of negative status, and another 21 percent only require a negative COVID test from non-vaccinated employees.

Companies are trying to bridge the divide and accommodate workers across the spectrum until they have clear federal standards from OSHA, which recently suspended enforcement of its revised rules amid legal battles in more than a dozen states.

These temporary workplace safety rules, which don’t replace more stringent state or local mandates, would provide minimum standards on the use of face coverings, vaccination proof, testing, and time off, as well as the protocol to be followed in the case of an outbreak.

While the status of these rules is still up in the air, many of our Sequoia clients have begun adopting these announced rules to balance the health and safety concerns of their employees.

It’s a tense, emotional time for many companies, but what’s clear is that those that remain flexible and adapt with employee concerns and shifting guidance will be better positioned to weather the pandemic.

You can find more information about employers’ COVID-19 policies and plans here in Sequoia’s New Workplace Report.

Landon Hersch — Landon is Sequoia's Director, Software Solutions focused on supporting Sequoia clients’ return to the workplace and keeping their employees and businesses healthy and safe. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family going boating and wakesurfing on the lake.