Should employers pay employees to be vaccinated? – FindLaw

Covid-19 vaccine syringe and ampoule above the US dollar.

More and more employers are turning to a time-tested method of encouraging employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine: They pay them money.

Oh, they are He can Just ask for it, as the EEOC Set December 16. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission stressed that the request for vaccinations does not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits employers from conducting medical examinations. The purpose of employer-requested vaccinations is not to obtain medical information, but to protect employees from contracting COVID-19, the EEOC said.

However, many employers Reluctant to do so Because it raises many cost and liability issues. For example, if an employer establishes a vaccination mandate, it must provide “reasonable facilities” for people who refuse vaccinations for religious or disability reasons.

Therefore, most employers strongly recommend that employees get vaccinated.

Dealing with doubters about the vaccine

The problem, of course, is that not all employees want to be vaccinated. They range from those with religious reasons to those “anti-vaccination” who distrust science and the “deep state”.

How do employers deal with these hesitant employees? More and more, by offering them money to get vaccinated.

Here are some examples:

  • The Houston Methodist System, a Texas hospital system, serves its 26,000 employees $ 500 “Hope Bonus” If they get vaccinated.
  • ALDI Grocery Chain It offers employees at its 2,000 stores up to four hours of pay – two hours for every two vaccinations.
  • Lidl grocery chain, Which has 125 stores in the eastern U.S., is offering employees $ 200 for vaccination.
  • JBS USA and Pilgrim’s, a huge meat processing company, employ 66,000 workers $ 100 bonus If they get vaccinated.

Legal issues

It’s too early to say how these programs will work – we’re still in the early stages of launching the vaccine – however A recent study He found that a third of respondents reluctant to receive vaccinations said they would agree to be vaccinated for as little as $ 100.

However, like other mandatory workplace policies, payment arrangements do not come without legal risks of their own.

First and foremost, whether the incentives can be considered so tempting to be coercive and thus in violation of the Federal Anti-discrimination Act as they may address worker health information.

Another is whether an employee who is claiming a valid exemption from vaccination for religious or disability reasons has a discrimination issue if he doesn’t get the bonus as well.

Attorney Natalie Sanders said Forbes That employers must pay attention to who collects health information before vaccinations. Employee vaccine information is medical information, and under the Americans with Disabilities Act, an employer must keep it confidential.

The EEOC perspective

Meanwhile, EEOC influenced publishing Proposed regulations Regulate vaccination incentives. They will allow employers to offer “minimal” incentives such as gift cards of modest value as part of a “participatory” wellness program that requires employees to provide medical information.

The “participatory” part here is key because it removes liability risks under the FADA.

It is also unclear what might be described as the “bottom line”. For example, several large companies have said they will provide paid time off for employees to get vaccinations and, if necessary, recover from them. Is this a “minimum” qualification?

Also, will a volunteer health program have the power to bring about the kind of safety employers are looking for?

It will be months before the rule-making process is complete, and things can change drastically by the time it’s over. Like many areas of life these days, all we can do is wait and see how everything will change.

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