Published Nov 04, 2021 by A.J. Mistretta
Statement Attributable to Bob Harvey, President and CEO, Greater Houston Partnership
“The Partnership continues to support companies requiring employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 and applauds steps that lead to improving our community’s vaccination rate, now hovering at 68 percent (Harris County, ages 12 and above, fully vaccinated).
Businesses have a duty to maintain a safe work environment, and many have deemed vaccine requirements an important step to get back to business safely.
When President Biden announced in September that employer vaccination requirement rules would be forthcoming for employers with over 100 employees, we were clear that the details of the rules mattered. We believe the specifics outlined by OSHA this morning are sensitive to our concerns.
While we believe that companies should have the right to set their own standards for employment, we respect the right of OSHA to set workplace safety standards and appreciate that the new OSHA rules allow for commonsense flexibility, including a frequent testing option that many companies have already chosen to provide their employees.
We also appreciate the other areas of flexibility such as employees who exclusively work from home and or work outdoors not being subject to the vaccine requirement, along with the fact that companies are not required to pay for testing of those who choose not to be vaccinated when there are already many free options available in our community.
At the same time, we acknowledge the concerns of some companies that it may be difficult to sustain operations if a significant number of employees choose not to be vaccinated and seek employment elsewhere. Fortunately, experience to date of companies that have required vaccines is that the vast majority of employees will take the step of being vaccinated rather than face termination or seek employment elsewhere. We acknowledge this is a difficult balance as companies seek to ramp up their operations as they recover from the pandemic-induced downturn.
All this said, vaccinations are our path out of the pandemic, and the Partnership remains focused on supporting steps that lead to improving the rate of vaccination in our community.”