Marsh & McLennan CEO says employer mandates can be uncommon

Dan Glaser, CEO of Marsh & McLennan Companies, told CNBC on Thursday that he did not expect coronavirus vaccine mandates to be fully implemented by employers.

In a “Squawk Box” interview, Glaser said the American company fully recognizes the importance of vaccines in containing the pandemic. “Don’t get me wrong: CEOs want their employees to be vaccinated, but I think mandates will be very rare,” he said.

Nevertheless, Glaser, who has headed the New York-based consulting firm and insurance broker since 2013, Marsh & McLennan advises his customers to “strongly promote” vaccinations against Covid-19. “We all want to go back to a more normal way of life … and that really requires vaccines,” he said.

The first Americans outside of clinical trials got Covid-19 vaccinations last week, and health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities are given priority in the first wave of available doses.

It will be some time before vaccines are available to the general public, Glaser said. This is an important piece of the puzzle for companies when thinking about guidelines. “That is still a long way off, especially if you think globally,” he said.

“In general, each mandate should be a government measure, as opposed to individual companies,” he added. “If we leave it to the corporations, there will be tremendous variability and that defeats the whole purpose of broader vaccination.”

Earlier this week, Brian Niccol, CEO of Chipotle Mexican Grill, told CNBC that the company currently has no plans to vaccinate employees against Covid-19. Social media giant Facebook will reportedly not require vaccinations for employees to return to the office. Ford and General Motors have also announced that they will not issue vaccination mandates.

However, a survey by the Chief Executive Leadership Institute at Yale University suggests that some C-suites are ready to prescribe Covid-19 vaccines. Just over 70% of CEOs polled at a recent summit said companies should need vaccines at work. This emerges from data shared with CNBC by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, who led the executive virtual gathering.

There are some questions about whether companies might require Covid-19 vaccinations right now, as the Food and Drug Administration has only issued emergency permits, which are not the same as full approvals. This is why the UAB health system in Alabama is not mandating this, CEO Will Ferniany told CNBC on Dec. 17. However, if full approval is later given and companies decide to implement vaccination requirements, legal experts told CNBC earlier this month that refusing to be vaccinated could be fired.

Glaser said there was no question about the importance of widespread vaccinations in resuming economic activity. “I’m just telling you the reality that I don’t think the companies we speak to have an appetite for vaccination mandates,” he said.

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