American automaker Ford is facing significant challenges when it comes to producing new cars right now. The economy is on shaky ground due to the global pandemic, and all levels of automotive production feel the ripple effect. Manufacturers are doing everything they can to prevent anything that can cause delays or shutdowns.
With the COVID vaccine now widely available, many large corporations are taking steps to ensure that their workforce is protected against the virus. It is becoming a rising trend for companies to require that their employees get vaccinated. Despite the issue being a touchy subject, some companies are not backing down from adopting this new policy.
Ford is requiring salaried employees to reveal COVID vaccination status
On Tuesday, September 28th, Ford announced that they will ask their salaried employees to disclose their COVID-19 vaccination status, according to a report from Reuters. The move is an effort to meet government standards. The Biden administration has already put plans into motion to require large businesses to ensure that their employees are vaccinated against COVID or tested weekly.
Ford stated that their salaried employees must inform them of their vaccination status by October 8th, 2021. For hourly employees represented by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union, disclosing vaccination status is voluntary.
Ford CEO Jim Farley mentioned in an interview that all of Ford’s leadership is vaccinated and that the company is conducting an internal survey to find out how many of their employees have been vaccinated so far.
“When it comes to the larger population of Ford, we want people to get vaccinated,” Farley said. He added that Ford leadership is working with the UAW on the matter of getting represented employees vaccinated. So far, the UAW has resisted calls to make vaccinations mandatory.
This is about more than following the rules
At first glance, it may seem that the automaker is making this vaccination effort just to ensure that it will not be penalized against any government mandates or regulations. However, Ford has a significant financial interest in ensuring as many of its employees are vaccinated as possible.
Thanks to the global chip shortage, Ford has already had to face temporary shutdowns due to interruptions in the supply chain. Employees contracting COVID can be just as detrimental to production as the chip shortage. When an employee gets sick, they have to undergo quarantine while recovering, which means one less worker on the production line. Furthermore, if one employee has COVID, chances are they could have spread it to others before realizing they were infected.
Since the “Delta” variant of COVID is more contagious, one sick employee can quickly multiply into dozens or even hundreds of sick employees. A COVID-related shut down on top of the global chip shortage is a problem Ford does not want to deal with.
The American manufacturer has lofty production goals for the near future. That includes investing in new assembly plants and boosting the upcoming Ford F-150 Lightning electric truck production to 80,000 units per year. The American automaker will need all hands on deck to keep pace with the upcoming demand for electric vehicles and fan favorites like the Mustang and Bronco.
Considering the UAW represents 58,000 hourly auto workers, Ford’s discussion with the union will be crucial going forward.