Discussions about vaccine mandates have been ongoing in the US for some time.
From the first days of his presidency, Joe Biden made it clear that he was going to take action against the COVID-19 pandemic.
This proved to be the case as he signed an executive order, in September, mandating that employees of companies that work with the government get vaccinated. He removed the alternative option of being regularly tested to opt-out unless there was a reasonable reason for exemption.
As it became apparent that companies can legally enforce vaccine mandates unless there is a religious or medical reason that forces the company to accommodate, the number of people vaccinated began to grow. Nonetheless, not everyone was on board with employer demands that they get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Those who work for Citigroup will now face a serious response if they continue to refuse to be vaccinated because COVID-19 jabs are now a condition of employment at the banking giant.
In a LinkedIn post, Citi’s head of human resources, Sara Wechter, explained the decision.
Wechter wrote: “As it has become crystal clear that COVID-19 will not be going away any time soon, our leadership at Citi has thought long and hard about how we navigate the latest stages of the pandemic.
“We have made the decision to require US-based colleagues to be fully vaccinated as a condition of employment.
“We will assess all requests for religious, medical or any other accommodation required by state or local law on a case by case basis.”
Wetcher did acknowledge the polarizing views around vaccinations: “Understanding that there are a range of views about vaccine mandates, this decision was made with careful consideration and analysis, but it came down to two key factors:
“First, as the US government is a large and important client of Citi, we have an obligation to comply with the Executive Order issued by the White House mandating that individuals supporting government contracts be fully vaccinated — an order that would impact the vast majority of our US colleagues.
“Second, having a vaccinated workforce enables us to ensure the health and safety of our colleagues as we return to the office in the US.”
The post also stressed: “Our people are our most important asset, and we will do all we can to help our colleagues comply with this new requirement.”
Despite this, there was some opposition on LinkedIn ranging from wild conspiracies about Microsoft, Bill Gates, and mind control (a classic conspiracy trifecta). Others questioned whether Citi would implement this policy worldwide and whether states would block this move.
What can employees do?
Employees at Citi who do not have an exemption will have until 14 January 2022 to get vaccinated.
This is later than the mandate date set by Biden, which is 8 December. However, employees will need to consider the time taken to get two doses, which are usually administered three to four weeks apart.
In terms of monitoring vaccinations, QR codes and even service management tools like ServiceNow can monitor the status of employees without delving into medical histories.
With this in mind, there seem to be very few blockers that would stop Citigroup from implementing this action.