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Sunday, 22 August 2021

How different companies approach their employees’ vaccination

No carrots, no sticks: How Egyptian companies are approaching covid vaccination. Egyptian companies have so far shied away from mandating their staff be vaccinated against covid-19, according to an Enterprise survey. None of the nine organizations surveyed said they had plans to oblige their staff to register for the vaccine, and while several said they have implemented awareness-raising campaigns targeting their teams, none are offering stronger incentives to get jabbed.

The state, on the other hand, had been gradually mandating vaccines for employees of different sectors: The health ministry led a drive last April to get all tourism workers vaccinated, and aims to get all education sector staff and students jabbed before the start of the school year. Public sector and industrial workers, particularly those working in the extractive industries, for major companies, and at industrial zones, are reportedly next in line for the state-backed vaccination drive.

The private sector does seem to be accelerating efforts to get staff immunized against the virus with some companies close to getting their entire workforce vaccinated, the poll shows.

Vaccines are slowly becoming more accessible: Almost nine months into the government’s vaccination campaign, jabs are becoming easier to acquire. Vacsera is ramping up production of home-made Sinovac (more on that in this morning’s Covid Watch, below), while some 2.8 mn shots have been delivered this month. Several mn Pfizer and Sinovac doses are also expected to arrive in the country soon.

This has allowed some companies to vaccinate almost all of their staff: Edita Food Industries, for instance, has managed to get almost 100% of its employees vaccinated, the company’s IR director, Menna Shams El Din, tells us. Through coordination with the Health Ministry, the company has carried out vaccinations at its headquarters, and aside from a few people who declined due to health reasons, everyone at the company volunteered to take the jab, she says. Telecom Egypt is also working with the ministry and is on its way to vaccinating all its employees, while El Araby Group has finished vaccinating around 40k employees. “We’ve been working to provide the vaccine because human capital is the most important element in the production process. Without it, everything else is a lost cause,” the company’s vice president Ibrahim El Araby tells Enterprise.

Others are finding it a slower process: GB Auto has currently vaccinated around 40% of its employees, according to the company’s head of HR, George Sedky, who tells us that how long it takes for the company to get all of its staff vaccinated will depend on when it receives the shots from the ministry.

And some just won’t talk about it: Uber declined to participate in our poll after initially welcoming the idea. In the US, the California-based ride-hailing company has made vaccination compulsory for its office staff, but has declined to do the same for drivers, instead encouraging them to take precautionary measures such as wearing masks.

Some companies are launching campaigns to persuade staff members to get vaccinated: Egypt’s largest private-sector bank, CIB, is inviting its employees to sign up to get jabbed and wants to raise awareness of its importance, IR head Sherif Khalil tells us. Siemens Mobility has also organized a campaign to persuade everyone who hasn’t registered with the ministry.

We are yet to find a company that has made it mandatory for staff to be jabbed. None of the companies we spoke to have taken the decision to make vaccines mandatory for all employees. Firms including Beltone, Siemens, and CIB all stressed that being vaccinated remains voluntary and that they currently have no plans to oblige people to take the vaccine.

Most are not making it a condition for new employees to be jabbed before they join: Juhayna, Edita and CIB all told us that being vaccinated isn’t a condition to being hired.

Many companies are staying away from both carrot and stick: TE isn’t forcing anyone to be vaccinated and is not offering any incentives or meting out penalties for those who don’t want to take the jab, the company’s IR director Sarah Shabeyek tells us.

What about us? Along with our parent company Inktank, we at Enterprise are going with the carrot approach. Each staff member gets an EGP 1k bonus when they get their first jab — and every staff member will get an additional EGP 1k bonus when everyone at the entire company has had two jabs. We see vaccination as one of the keys to returning to the office three days a week in September.

WHAT’S HAPPENING ABROAD? More and more companies are demanding staff be jabbed. Canada’s five largest banks have made it mandatory for all in-person staff to be jabbed, and Canadian government employees must roll up their sleeves. The road to vaccination is … considerably more fraught in other countries, including America.

Vaccination rates across the country remain low: As of earlier this month, around 6 mn Egyptians had received at least one dose of a covid-19 vaccine.

But getting companies on board will be crucial if the government is going to hit its vaccination targets: Under new targets announced last week, the ministry is aiming to hand out at least one dose of a vaccine to more than a third of the population in under three months. This would mean that around 35 mn people would receive a dose in just 88 days.

Does your company have a vaccine policy? Let us know at editorial@enterprise.press.

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