In January, a vaccine-or-test mandate issued by President Joe Biden’s administration for larger businesses was struck down by the Supreme Court. A week later, a federal judge in Texas blocked another vaccine mandate that would have required all federal employees to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. These are intertwined stories that employees and employers of all political leanings have been following for months now – and they are likely far from finished.
The initial rulings – that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) lacks the authority to force 84 million workers to be vaccinated but that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services does have the right to enforce a vax mandate for hospital, nursing home and healthcare employees – are based on slippery-slope premises that figure to be further challenged in court. These are sticky, personal issues that have driven wedges between family members in individual households. You can imagine the challenge for corporate leadership to satisfy all parties in the workplace.
Yet even as hopes that new waves of the Omicron variant subside as the year advances (and warmer, outdoor weather allows for more social distancing), companies should expect to be navigating the matters of personal freedoms, worker’s rights and the safety obligation of employers for the foreseeable future. There’s just one question in the meantime: What now?
With federal mandates likely up for further debate, and with state and local laws frequently in conflict even with settled federal decisions, organizations across the country – many of them having established a presence in multiple cities and states – probably feel stuck. It’s hard enough building a business under ideal conditions. During a pandemic, when public opinion is split and even government officials can’t agree on a way forward, it may seem impossible.
Still, employers have options. Rather than investing in pandemic-proofing measures such as a massive remodel of existing facilities or testing infrastructure that could become antiquated or obsolete within months, companies can help meet their short-term needs using contract workers.
Contractors offer employers several advantages during these uncertain times. First: flexibility. Freelancers are easier to hire and can be retained without some of the long-term commitments necessary for staff hires. This can make filling holes in the workforce and handling temporary and unforeseen situations (such as those during a global pandemic) more manageable.
Additionally, many contractors are not only accustomed to working from home – they prefer it. By engaging freelancers who require less overhead per worker (no desk, chair, office space, etc.) and are able to isolate themselves from other employees in their own work spaces, a company can have the best of all worlds: a thrifty, safe and productive workforce.
Contractors won’t solve every business problem during the pandemic. But even as legal wrangling over federal mandates threatens to bog down industry at large, contract workers allow organizations greater freedom to keep moving ahead in the meantime.
Think contractors might help your company navigate these uncertain times? Check out PeopleCaddie’s talent cloud.