For businesses employing 100 or more people, the federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate is on the way—and one certainty in an unfamiliar landscape is that its implementation will complicate the lives of gym owners, managers, and employees.
But, as I learned in 10 years of managing gyms within a health system that mandated flu vaccines, there are steps you can take to ease implementation, and now is the time to get started.
Tips on Implementing Vaccine Mandates in Your Club
The consequences for getting this wrong are serious. Gym owners face fines of $14,000 per non-compliance incident. You cannot afford to have employees skirt the mandate, but you don't want to lose disgruntled staff. If you have not considered writing an employment rule for vaccines you will need to do so based on the position you want to take for employees that refuse to follow the mandated guidelines. Be aware their refusal is putting you at risk for a non-compliance fine.
Fortunately, as I found by trial and error, following a few basic strategies can make all the difference in smoothing the way. These strategies include:
Making a plan
Communicating the plan
Using a system to manage the mandate
1. Mandate or testing? Make a plan.
Gym owners will need to decide soon whether they will allow weekly COVID-19 testing as an alternative to vaccination. A testing option might mitigate blowback, but keep in mind that weekly testing and tracking adds another potential layer of costs and complexity to managing the situation.