MGM More Than Doubles Mandatory COVID Test Prices for Unvaccinated Hourly Workers

Posted on: November 17, 2021, 01:33h. 

Last updated on: November 17, 2021, 02:28h.

UPDATE: The OSHA emergency rule has been placed on hold by a US Appeals Court. MGM has not yet commented. 

MGM Resorts’ unvaccinated hourly employees in Las Vegas will now have to pay $38 towards each COVID test they are required to take. That’s more than twice the $15 they previously had to pay, but still less than half than the cost of the test itself, according to MGM CEO Bill Hornbuckle.

MGM Resorts vaccine
A man winces as a health worker administers a PCR COVID-19 test. The tests are compulsory for unvaccinated hourly workers at MGM’s Las Vegas properties. (Image: Canadian Press)

The new rules do not apply to employees who work from home.

Hornbuckle notified staff of the policy change in a letter dated November 16, seen by He said the steps had been taken in response to a new emergency order from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). That order mandated vaccines or weekly testing for private companies with more than 100 workers.

President Biden’s federal vaccine mandate, which is enforced by OSHA, gave businesses until January 4, 2022, to comply. But the order has been delayed by the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit while judges review its legal standing.

The order has been challenged by more than two dozen lawsuits, which yesterday were consolidated by the court.

Hornbuckle added that MGM would waive the $38 testing co-pay for employees who receive their first dose of a two-shot vaccination by a November 27 deadline.

Get Shot or Get Fired

MGM is one of Nevada’s largest employers. It already has a vaccine mandate in place, but currently only for salaried staff. Hourly employees who do not wish to get vaccinated must undergo regular on-site testing. Those who don’t comply are placed on unpaid leave pending an investigation, which could lead to them losing their jobs.

Workers are permitted to get their own tests done independently, but these have to be PCR tests. Less accurate home self-testing is not acceptable.

According to The Las Vegas-Review Journal, employees are divided up alphabetically by last name, and each group is assigned a specific week for testing. Those who test positive are required to isolate, as are those deemed to have been in close contact with them.

The unvaccinated are not paid for time off during this quarantine period.

Hornbuckle said that 84 percent of the company’s hourly workforce has been vaccinated. That’s compared with more than 98 percent of the salaried workforce.

Salaried employees were given a deadline of October 15 to get the jabs. It was listed as a condition of their employment when MGM introduced its vaccine mandate back in August.

Hornbuckle said last month he was delighted that fewer than 2 percent of salaried employees had chosen to leave or be fired rather than accept vaccination.

OSHA Order Delayed

So far, Resorts World Las Vegas and Westgate have adopted similar policies. LVRJ reports that local unions support the measures and are eager to negotiate with more casino sector employers about following suit.