American retail giant Walmart announced that employees who work out of the company’s headquarters will have to get vaccinated from COVID-19 by Oct. 4.
Walmart, the largest private employer in the country with 1.5 million employees, announced the large changes to their corporate policy Friday, which is supposed to act as an incentive for workers to get vaccinated, according to The Associated Press (AP). Beyond employees who work out of Walmart headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, Walmart managers who travel for work within the U.S. will also have to get vaccinated, The AP noted.
The vaccine mandate has not been extended to frontline workers, whom the company acknowledged have a lower vaccination rate than the company’s managers. The hope, Walmart claimed, is that its managers will set a positive example and encourage other employees to get vaccinated as well, The AP reported. “We’re hoping that will influence even more of our frontline associates to become vaccinated,” Walmart spokesman Scott Pope said, according to The AP.
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However, Walmart employees located in stores, distribution facilities and warehouses will also be required to wear masks on the job in areas with high levels of COVID-19 infections regardless of their personal vaccination status, The AP added. Walmart is also providing its employees a cash incentive to get vaccinated. Employees who work in stores, clubs, and other facilities will receive $150 if they get the vaccine, according to The AP.
Previously, the cash incentive was $75, and those who have already been vaccinated under that incentive structure will see an additional $75 added to their paycheck on Aug. 19, The AP reported.
Walmart will also be encouraging patrons in areas with high levels of COVID-19 community spread to wear masks inside their stores, and will have employees, dubbed health ambassadors, hand out masks at store entrances to patrons who do not have masks, according to The AP. (RELATED: Walmart Pledges To Pay For 100% Of College Tuition For Its Employees)
In a memo circulated to Walmart employees, Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart Inc., claimed, “The virus is not over, and the delta variant has led to an increase in infection rates across much of the U.S.,” The AP reported.
McMillon was joined by Walmart Chief People Officer Donna Morris, who said “We continue to watch with deep concern the developments of the pandemic and the spread of variants, especially the delta variant,” according to The AP.
“We know vaccinations are our solution to drive change. We are urging you to get vaccinated and want to see many more of you vaccinated,” Morris added.
Walmart is just the latest in a long string of large corporations to implement some kind of COVID-19 vaccine requirement, including Google, Facebook, Netflix, Twitter, United Airlines and Delta, and Morgan Stanley among others.