Restaurants worry Biden vaccine mandate could further complicate hiring issues

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A syringe is prepared with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic at the Reading Area Community College in Reading, Pa., Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

INDIANAPOLIS — Post-pandemic hiring troubles are becoming all too common for central Indiana restaurants and hotels. Now industry leaders fear the federal government’s new vaccine mandates will further complicate the search for employees.

Moving forward any business with more than 100 employees must require all unvaccinated workers to get weekly testing and to wear masks. This impacts all chains or larger restaurant groups.

If a company has multiple locations it may put them above the threshold even if a single restaurant has only a dozen employees.

“Obviously this takes place early in January, so people will be making plans now to comply with it,” answers Patrick Tamm, President and CEO of the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association (INRLA)

INRLA fears unvaccinated workers will leave bigger companies for smaller ones to avoid restrictions.

Ben Diallo owns LA Taco across the street from the Fashion Mall. The fresh, fusion taco spot is also struggling to fill out their staff. It’s led to employees working longer hours and more shifts. Diallo welcomes the opportunity to pick up new employees from larger restaurant chains, however he remains skeptical of the major impact.

“I don’t think we will see the benefit of it until all of those millions of people who experienced job loss in the pandemic come back to work,” says Diallo,”it’s just getting the work force back to pre-pandemic.”

Currently the mandates do not require employers to pay for the testing. INRLA believes some companies may offer to pay to entice workers to apply.

“The labor market is so tight right now, you can figure employers would be trying all sorts of things to keep employees.”

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