The mandate covers all campus staff as well as market, regional and divisional employees, the retailer said.
Walmart Inc., the largest private employer in the U.S., is demanding that its headquarters and regional staff be vaccinated by October 4, and joins Google in establishing a policy that could set a standard for corporate America, as the highly contagious delta variant still distributed.
The mandate covers all campus staff as well as market, regional and divisional employees working in various facilities, CEO Doug McMillon said in a memorandum on Friday. A spokesman could not immediately say how many of the 1.5 million retailers in the U.S. workforce would be affected. Walmart separately told its leading store and warehouse partners on Friday to put on masks again, doubling the cash incentive offered by employees to $ 150.
“The pandemic is not over yet, and the delta variant has led to an increase in infection rates in much of the U.S.,” McMillon said in the memorandum. “We have decided to vaccinate all entities on campus and all market, regional and divisional staff working in various facilities by October 4, unless they have an approved exception.”
Walmart will be closely watched by other corporate leaders struggling with the many challenges of getting white-collar workers safely back into their offices while also looking after their top employees in stores, factories and distribution centers. This week, Google from Alphabet Inc. said workers returning to their offices would be vaccinated, and Apple Inc. delayed his return to office and began encouraging shopkeepers to wear masks again.
Within minutes of Walmart’s announcements, rival grocer Kroger Co said it would encourage even vaccinated staff and customers to wear masks in stores. Retail places have become the unintended battlefield for the broader cultural and political brouhaha over masks, and some confrontations between staff and customers have become violent in recent years.
For large employers, it will be difficult to extend vaccine mandates from office workers to front-line staff. At Albertsons Cos., The vaccination rate of store workers is close to the national average, CEO Vivek Sankaran said this week. This is about 60%.
According to chief operating officer David Levine, these are not just corporate titans: the 230-person communications consultant BerlinRosen has implemented a vaccine requirement.
Walmart’s CEO said there was a ‘small percentage’ of employees who could not be vaccinated for medical or religious reasons, and the spokesman said they should ‘follow all social distance standards, wear a mask while working. and weekly Covid-19 tests must be received provided by Walmart. ”
If Walmart employees claim medical or religious exemption but do not receive approval, they will be suspended for a specified period to receive the vaccination. If employees continue to refuse vaccination, they are fired.
Employees at the company’s Bentonville, Arkansas campus – which is in the midst of a complete architectural renovation that will only be completed in 2025 – have gradually returned to offices with the intention of returning to Labor Day after staff day. But now McMillon has said he may need to adjust the timing.
Walmart’s new mandate will apply to all new employees in the relevant locations, the company said. Management also limits business travel to mission-critical travel, which could hamper air travel revival if policies are pursued by other large corporations.