In what is likely to become a norm soon, Hero MotoCorp has announced that it will vaccinate its entire workforce, including contract workers, against COVID-19 at its own cost.
“With the government opening up the vaccination process against the coronavirus for the corporate sector, we have decided to vaccinate our workforce and other stakeholders within the extended Hero family at no cost,” it said.
Employees of associate companies such as Hero FinCorp, Hero Future Energies, Rockman Industries, Hero Electronix and AG Industries are also covered by the program.
“More than 80,000 employees, including the entire workforce of Hero MotoCorp, Group Companies and Supply Chain Partners will be covered under this initiative. Additionally, a similar drive will be commenced for Hero MotoCorp’s Pan-India dealer network,” the company said.
The vaccination initiative will cover both shots of the Covid-19 vaccine in phases as defined by health authorities, the company said.
It was not clear if companies like Hero MotoCorp are allowed to offer vaccinations to those segments of the population who are currently not being given free vaccines by the government.
This is especially crucial for a company like Hero MotoCorp, given that most of its employees would fall into the age 25-45 group who are currently not eligible to get free vaccines from the government.
On this topic, Hero MotoCorp said its vaccination will be “implemented as per the guidelines prescribed by the government, covering people over the age of 45 and those with comorbidities first, followed by a wider application in the general population.”
The phrasing seems to indicate that the company expects the government to extend its vaccination program to those below 45 years of age soon, or at least allow those below 45 years of age to be vaccinated under non-governmental vaccination programs.
Part of the reason why government has not extended the vaccination programs to those below 45 years of age is that the vaccines are still approved for emergency use only, and not for a wider user.
Typically, vaccines are not approved for wider use before a proper study is conducted for its after-effects over the next one year or so. The vaccines started getting administered only around six months ago.
Though the company did not specify it, the program is likely to be a voluntary one and the employees are likely to be given a choice to abstain if they choose to do so.
KEEPING THE WHEELS SPINNING
Hero was hurt very badly by the lock-down announced by the government in March last year, and lost two to three months worth of production due to the restrictions, including those related to social distancing at its factories.
Even after it restarted production, the company was still not able to ramp up very quickly due to problems with evacuation and an overall sluggishness in the movement of goods and people from one corner of the country to another.
By vaccinating its workers expeditiously, the world’s largest two-wheeler maker will be able to reduce the impact of the current spike in COVID-19 numbers and any associated restrictions imposed by the government in the future.
As part of its ongoing relief efforts, Hero MotoCorp has distributed more than 23 lakh meals, over 37,805 ration kits, more than 37,700 litres of sanitizers, 45+ lakhs face masks and 57,000+ PPE kits to the government hospitals, police departments and other agencies.