- Nike will require all office-based employees in the U.S. to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 upon return to in-person work, the company said in an email to Retail Dive.
- Currently, Nike is planning for an office return date of January 10 in the U.S., and said the vaccine mandate is "supporting the effort to bring people safely back to their workplaces."
- The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on vaccine requirements for its store-level employees and whether it is considering a mandate there as well.
Nike's vaccine mandate for office-based employees in the U.S. comes amid pressure from the Biden administration for all companies with more than 100 employees to require vaccination or weekly testing. That would include retailers' store-level workers, which have largely not fallen under the vaccine mandates companies have put in place.
Nike is not alone in requiring corporate employees to be vaccinated: Walgreens, Walmart, CVS Health, Saks and TJX, among others, have made similar decisions in recent months, but store-level employees and warehouse workers have largely been left out of such decisions. President Joe Biden's mandate that all companies with more than 100 employees require vaccination or weekly testing would change that, but retailers have already raised flags over how to go about carrying out the rule.
Policy officials with the National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association two weeks ago requested 90 days to comply with the rule. The trade organizations also raised a series of questions about how the mandate would be implemented, including what counts as being vaccinated, who will pay for workers that choose to undergo weekly testing, how the ruling would interact with state laws and how vaccinations would be verified.
Retailers are already facing a labor shortage ahead of the all-important holiday season, and requiring vaccination could exacerbate that issue. Up to this point, retailers have combated the hiring shortage by touting benefits like tuition assistance, medical benefits and higher pay, but with the trouble that retailers have had recently, those plans will likely be challenged.
"The end of the expanded unemployment benefits may spur some workers to take these positions," Andrew Challenger, vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said of seasonal hiring efforts in emailed comments. "However, myriad other issues could keep them from filling these roles, such as COVID concerns, vaccination statuses, child care issues, and burnout."