The mandate covers all campus staff as well as market, regional and divisional employees who work at multiple facilities, CEO Doug McMillon said in a memo on Friday. A spokesperson could not immediately say how many of the retailer’s 1.5 million U.S. employees will be affected. Walmart separately asked its front-line store and warehouse associates to hand over masks on Friday and doubled the cash incentive it is offering employees to get vaccinated to $ 150.
“The pandemic is not over and the delta variant has resulted in increased infection rates across much of the United States,” McMillon said in the memo. “We have made the decision to require that all campus office associates and all market, regional and divisional associates who work in multiple institutions be vaccinated by October 4, unless they have an approved exception. . “
Walmart will be watched closely by other business leaders grappling with the myriad of challenges of getting employees safely back to their offices while caring for their frontline workers in stores, factories and offices. distribution centers. This week, Alphabet Inc.’s Google said it would require workers returning to its offices to be vaccinated, and Apple Inc. delayed its return to the office until October and began urging store workers to wear again. masks.
Minutes after the Walmart announcements, rival grocer Kroger Co. said it would even encourage vaccinated staff and customers to wear masks in stores. Retail stores have inadvertently become battlegrounds for the wider cultural and political hubbub over wearing masks, with some confrontations between staff and customers turning violent in the past year.
For large employers, it will be difficult to extend immunization mandates from office workers to front-line staff. At Albertsons Cos., The vaccination rate for store workers is close to the national average, chief executive Vivek Sankaran said this week. It’s about 60%.
But it’s not just the corporate titans that act: 230-person public relations consultant BerlinRosen has implemented a vaccine requirement for any employee wishing to enter its three offices, according to COO David Levine.
The CEO of Walmart said there was a “small percentage” of employees who could not get vaccinated for medical or religious reasons, and the spokesperson said they “must follow all standards of social distancing, wearing a mask while working, and receiving weekly Covid-19 tests provided by Walmart.
If Walmart employees claim a medical or religious exemption but do not receive approval, they will be suspended for a specified period in order to receive the vaccination. If the employees still refuse the inoculation, they will be fired.
Employees at the company’s Bentonville, Ark. Campus – which is in the midst of a complete architectural overhaul that won’t be completed until 2025 – have gradually returned to the offices with the intention of returning to the levels. pre-pandemic staffing after Labor Day. . Now, however, McMillon has said he may need to adjust that schedule.
Walmart’s new mandate will apply to all new hires in affected locations, the company said. Management is also limiting business travel to critical trips, which could hurt the resurgence of air travel if its policy is followed by other big companies.