SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – A Utah retailer will now require unvaccinated employees to pay extra for the company’s insurance.
Harmons isn’t the first to begin charging more on its insurance premium for unvaccinated employees. Delta Airlines made the move a few weeks back, charging its unvaccinated employees an extra $200 a month. In other cases, like Las Vegas’s MGM Resorts International, unvaccinated employees are unable to be paid for time off to quarantine if they test positive for the virus. A Utah-based insurance company is even paying eligible members $100 to get vaccinated.
In a statement shared with ABC4, Harmons explains:
Harmons’ top concern is the safety and well-being of our associates. Over 86% of our associates are vaccinated and we believe this and the other safety measures we have taken, have kept our associates safe through the pandemic. Harmons has a self-funded insurance plan. Studies show the average cost of a COVID hospitalization is $50,000 and the risk of being hospitalized is dramatically increased for those who are not vaccinated. We have an obligation to keep the cost of insurance as low as possible for our people and having as many people vaccinated as possible will help with this goal. Because of this, we have implemented an insurance premium surcharge of up to $200 per month for unvaccinated associates who don’t qualify for an exemption or who chose not to complete a vaccine education series. We are keeping an eye on the federal guidelines and anticipating guidance from OSHA. We will respond accordingly when guidance is released.
Earlier this month, President Joe Biden instructed the U.S. Department of Labor to issue an emergency rule requiring companies with 100 or more employees to implement vaccination requirements. The Utah Department of Workforce Services tells ABC4 the requirements will affect 2,342 companies and hundreds of thousands of Utahns. While countless Utah lawmakers have already spoken out about the federal requirement – including Attorney General Sean Reyes, who is among numerous others threatening legal action against Biden – some companies are requiring employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Intermountain Healthcare, one of the state’s largest employers, recently announced its vaccine requirement. Some Utahns even gathered outside Hill Air Force Base to protest the COVID-19 vaccine mandate in effect for service members and government employees.
As Harmons states, they have not yet acted on the federal vaccine mandate as they are awaiting additional guidance. Pharmacy workers at Harmons are required to get the vaccine unless they have a medical or religious exemption.