More retailers are turning to financial incentives to encourage their workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Grocer Aldi says it will cover costs associated with vaccine administration and will provide employees with two hours of pay for each dose they receive, up to four hours total, as well as scheduling flexibility for salaried employees. It is not a requirement, but the employer is encouraging the vaccinations “by removing obstacles for its workers to access the COVID-19 vaccine, if they so choose,” the company said in a statement.
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Trader Joe’s said it will give employees two hours of pay for each dose they receive—for a total of four hours for the complete two doses—and will allow flexible scheduling so workers have time to get vaccinated. And Instacart said it will provide both in-store shoppers and contractors with a $25 stipend if they get vaccinated, with the stipulation that they must have completed five deliveries in the last 30 days.
Dollar General was one of the first major employers to announce a strategy for encouraging its workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The retailer said last month that it’s offering workers an extra four hours of pay for getting the vaccine. And food company Chobani says it will offer workers paid time off to get vaccinated, an early indication of a strategy some employers may take to encourage workers to get inoculated. The yogurt maker, which has roughly 2,200 U.S. workers, says it will cover up to six hours of time for Chobani employees to get vaccinated—three hours for each of the two COVID-19 vaccine doses.
Many organizations are mulling their COVID-19 vaccination plans, with some considering offering incentives or rolling out education campaigns on the vaccine and some even considering requiring mandating vaccination for employees.
Guidance from the EEOC says employers can require employees to get immunized with the coronavirus vaccine—with some accommodation exceptions—but most experts anticipate employers will first encourage vaccination before requiring it, especially as vaccines aren’t widely available yet.
Recent data indicates that financial incentives may be a smart strategy for employers to encourage vaccination. A survey from Blackhawk Network, a payments provider, finds that although some 40% of workers are either unsure about getting the vaccine or do not plan to get it, certain incentives could boost vaccination rates. For as little as $100, one-third of employees would agree to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the survey of 1,105 employees finds.
“Anything employers can do to encourage their staff to get the vaccine, or at least consider the vaccine and do more research into it before saying ‘no’ right away, will be incredibly beneficial not only for the company’s bottom line but more importantly for saving countless lives,” says employment expert Rob Wilson, president of employment firm Employco USA.