Omicron Variant Puts Companies on Notice This Holiday Season

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Some companies are considering canceling holiday gatherings this month, and many are doubling down on vaccine mandates

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Since the discovery of the Omicron coronavirus virus was revealed last week, much has remained unknown about it. Scientists are racing to determine how it differs from other types in its spread and response to vaccines, treatments, and past infections. The World Health Organization has declared Omicron a “type of concern”, indicating that it carries a higher risk than other virus strains. Meanwhile, the US has now received several cases of the Omicron variant. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending that everyone 18 years of age and older get a booster shot after completing the first course of COVID-19 vaccination.

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Among the questions related to Omicron most pressing for companies is whether to proceed with holiday gatherings. Johnny C. Taylor Jr., president and CEO of the Society for Humans, said companies are asking whether they should convert in-person holiday gatherings to virtual events, or cancel them altogether, giving some employees gifts. Considering a certificate. resource management. He said the union of HR professionals made over 500 inquiries about the new version from its members between last Friday and Tuesday.

Although the number of company holiday parties had not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels – and some were already avoiding it this year due to financial constraints – many are now considering the risks of hosting a corporate gathering. who can potentially turn into a super. -Spreader incident, said Mr. Taylor. “In view of the concerns, they think it is not worth the risk,” he said.

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Oppenheimer & Co. is still deciding whether to host its holiday party this year, said Douglas Siegel, the broker-dealer’s chief compliance officer. But he said he has canceled the holiday gathering for the compliance department following the latest news.

The firm, which requires its employees and visitors to the office to be fully vaccinated, in October brought its employees back to the office using a hybrid model, in which employees work from home on some days and in offices on others. It is allowed for workers to visit and meet customers if necessary.

Mr Taylor said SHRM, as an organization that also hosts the conferences, is now deciding whether to cancel events in the first quarter of 2022 in light of new risks and provisions in the contracts. “This is affecting our conference business; This is a real threat,” he said. But he also hopes that things will get better in the spring.

Mr Taylor said while some companies are hesitant to need a COVID-19 vaccine and await a court battle over the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate, Omicron’s emergence is prompting many to need to be vaccinated against the virus. Yes, said Mr. Taylor. And some companies that already require vaccines now require employees to get booster shots, he said.

The Biden administration’s vaccination or testing mandate for businesses with 100 or more employees is facing legal challenges but was set to take effect in full on Jan.

Volkswagen AG

It is encouraging everyone to vaccinate or get a booster shot and is now offering its employees the opportunity to get vaccinated at an on-site vaccination center, according to Kurt Michels, the German auto maker’s chief compliance officer. He added that the company has limited individual activities to those required by operations and development projects, and advised its German employees to work from home whenever possible amid a new wave of the virus in the country. Volkswagen, which also requires masks in the workplace, has canceled physical programs and training courses and has largely stopped business trips, he said.

Others, such as money-transfer company MoneyGram International Inc.

and fintech business PayPal Holdings Inc.,

They say they are closely monitoring the emerging situation and taking guidance from local authorities, but have not yet made any changes to their existing policies. Some of these companies continue to offer flexibility in work arrangements or most of their employees are still working from home.

Meanwhile, Oppenheimer held a management meeting Monday morning to discuss the Omicron version, but has yet to change its overall policies regarding the virus, waiting for more information and guidance from officials such as the CDC and New York State. have been, Mr. Siegel said. ,

“We think it is too early to make a decision at this second. The information is still coming in,” he said. “But we are watching it closely.”

Mengqi Sun [email protected] . Feather

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