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Small businesses fear losing employees amid new vaccine requirement

A record number of small businesses nationwide are having trouble filling positions. Now with the new vaccine mandate for companies, their burden has increased.

SAN ANTONIO — A record number of small businesses nationwide are having trouble filling positions. Now with President Biden’s new vaccine mandate for companies, these owners face a new burden.

A report by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) showed 50% of small business owners were unable to fill positions in August. NFIB said the biggest challenges were finding enough workers to meet the demand and handling supply chain disruptions. 

Last week, President Joe Biden announced new vaccine requirements that will impact companies with at least 100 employees. He said employers must mandate staff coronavirus vaccinations or enforce weekly testing.

Stephanie Scheller, CEO of Scheller Enterprises in San Antonio, has helped thousands of companies grow their business. She said the new federal requirement increases the burden on businesses. Whether they’re relieved or upset about the upcoming changes, she said business owners are concerned about losing employees.

“Will it deepen the divide? Absolutely. Was it the best way to go about to get more people vaccinated? I don’t think so,” said Scheller. “They’re just trying to make enough money to pay back EIDL loans, pay back all this stuff that they took and they can’t because they don’t have enough employees.”

Scheller said she anticipates some businesses will close for good, scale back operations or try to find loopholes.

“My thought was – well, the easiest way to deal with this is I’m going to just start a second LLC and everyone who’s involved in service is going to move their employment contract to this LLC. Now I’ve only got 50 employees on each side,” theorized Scheller.  

For small businesses that are frustrated about the new rules, Scheller advises to make a decision soon.

“Smaller businesses under about 30 can adapt and react pretty quickly. Businesses that are over 100 are at a point where they’re losing some of that agility. They have to make decisions quickly and they have to stand behind them and that is going to be the one of the biggest challenges for them. They have to make a decision. They can’t be waffling on this,” said Scheller.

President Biden has tasked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to enforce the vaccine mandate. The group is expected to release information soon on how it will work for businesses.