However, Walmart isn’t requiring all of its more than 1.6 million US workers to get vaccinated. The company is only encouraging those store and warehouse workers to get vaccinated by offering a $150 bonus, double the previous amount it offered.
“Our approach with our large number of associates in frontline facilities has to been to inform them, encourage them, make it easy and to reward them financially for choosing to receive the vaccine,” Walmart spokesperson Kory Lundberg said in an email explaining the decision to require corporate employees to get vaccinated but not hourly workers. “Now, we’re asking our leaders, which already have a higher vaccination rate, to make their example clear. We’re hoping that will influence even more of our frontline associates to become vaccinated.”
Why there’s a difference in who has to get vaccinated
Companies are starting to require vaccines for corporate workers because they are eager to reopen their offices and believe that mandating Covid-19 shots will allay many white-collar workers’ safety concerns about returning, said Brian Kropp, chief of HR research at Gartner, a research and advisory firm to companies. Gartner works with 15,000 corporate human resource officials and surveys and consults with them on issues facing their businesses, including vaccines.
“There is an urgency and a desire to get them back and working in the corporate location, which is another reason why they’re trying to mandate vaccines,” Kropp said. “It’s just this constant pushback that these companies have heard, which is, for a lot of employees ‘I’m not going to come back to a workplace that I don’t feel is safe.'”
“There’s a real tension given how tight the labor market is. If you make [vaccines] a condition of employment, that might limit your access to talent,” he said.
Additionally, turnover is higher among hourly workers than white-collar employees, and their average tenures are lower, making it less practical for employers to impose mandates on hourly workers who may switch companies in the coming weeks or months.
Seventy-four percent of adults making $90,000 annually said they had already received one dose, compared with 63% making less than $40,000 a year.
Still, there are some employers like Tyson who are exceptions. Disney is requiring all its salaried and non-union hourly employees in the United States to be vaccinated. The company also said it has started discussing vaccine mandates with the unions representing some frontline workers.
“Mandating vaccine requirements for restaurant and bar employees and customers to work and dine indoors is a very difficult step, but ultimately may prove an essential move, to protecting public health,” said Andrew Rigie, executive director of New York City Hospitality Alliance in an emailed statement. The Alliance represents 24,000 restaurant and bar establishments.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy also announced Monday that all workers in certain state and private health care facilities and high-risk congregate settings will be required to be vaccinated or submit to Covid-19 testing.
CNN Business’ Danielle Wiener-Bronner contributed to this report.