Law & Principles

Paycom touts program to implement Biden vaccine mandate

February 2, 2022

Ray Carter

Oklahoma-based Paycom is facilitating efforts to implement the Biden administration’s COVID-vaccine mandate with “Clue,” a program that allows employers to “collect, track and manage” employees’ data regarding vaccination status or compliance with mandatory testing.

In one post on the company’s website, Paycom stressed that although employers must provide four hours of paid time off for employees to get vaccinated, those same companies “are not obligated to pay for the mandated weekly tests” for employees who choose to forgo the vaccine for any reason, which can include medical challenges.

The Biden administration attempted to make COVID-19 vaccines a condition of employment throughout the private sector via a mandate issued through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). That OSHA regulation would have required all employees of businesses with 100 or more staff members—an estimated 80 million private-sector workers—to be vaccinated for COVID-19 or tested weekly and wear a mask. Businesses that failed to comply faced fines up to $136,532.

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down that regulation but allowed another Biden administration mandate to stand that required most health workers to be vaccinated.

Paycom officials have attempted to capitalize on Biden administration mandates with the company’s “Clue” program.

In website promotional materials, Paycom states that “Clue” allows employers “to monitor and analyze employees” and “verify or deny any vaccination or test submissions.” The program also allows employers to “send push notifications to instantly notify an employee of possible discrepancies.”

“Ensuring a compliant workforce requires employers to be clued in to their employees’ vaccination and testing status, as well as the impact on the entire workforce,” Paycom’s promotional materials state.

Paycom states that its program will allow employers to “monitor and analyze results in one dashboard” and “view real-time percentage of the workforce fully vaccinated.”

Paycom’s website includes sample images from the “Clue” program. Those materials show that the program will quiz workers on which specific vaccination they received, the date of an employees’ first dose, and whether they have received a second dose along with the date it was administered. The program also quizzes employees for the name of the provider who gave them the vaccination. The program includes a page where workers would upload their vaccination card to company files.

In a Feb. 10 earnings call, Paycom CEO Chad Richison said the COVID-19 pandemic has benefited his company by forcing more businesses to use providers like Paycom rather than dedicated in-house employees who input data into a company system.

“The coming extinction of the old model has been our expectation for many years, and I’m very excited to see it happening,” Richison said during the call, according to a transcript.

This is not the first time Paycom has financially benefited from imposition of government policies that were widely unpopular in Oklahoma and elsewhere. The passage of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as “Obamacare,” forced many businesses to hire companies like Paycom due to the complexity created by new insurance regulations. In 2013, Paycom’s executive vice president of operations told The Oklahoman that the company was adding 300 to 400 new clients a month and “about 70 percent of that is because of the ACA.”

Richison has publicly advocated for a wide range of COVID restrictions on Oklahoma companies.

In a public letter released in March 2020, Richison called for temporary closure of a range of businesses, “which includes, but is not limited to, hair salons, nail salons, spas and massage parlors.” He also called on the government to require grocery stores to provide “drive-thru pick up or delivery for all customers,” and mandate that undefined “critical” businesses be required to coordinate “with state government.” Richison also called on state government to mandate how “food preparation and other critical portions of the supply chain” are handled under undefined “newly established uniform standards to prevent transmission of the virus.” And Richison called for a ban on “all non-essential” travel from Oklahoma airports.