As the Covid-19 vaccine rolls out across the country, some companies are deciding it makes sense to pay workers to get it.
Since late last February, many businesses have been badly hurt by the pandemic, so much that the economy is in danger of another quarter of negative growth this winter.
Measures to meaningfully curb the virus have been unsuccessful; no national mask mandate and weak compliance with virus recommendations in many places has led to aggravated case loads. While the vaccine has been embraced by a majority of people, some are reluctant to get it — whether because of personal skepticism or the time commitment involved.
By paying employees to get vaccinated, businesses are not only dangling a carrot in front of workers who may not feel strongly that the virus represents much of a stick, but more importantly they’re helping them avoid difficult choices. The move is similar to companies that give workers paid time off to vote.
The companies that have announced moves to pay workers to get vaccinated so far include large grocery retailers with many employees deemed frontline or essential workers.
“Our goal with the introduction of our new vaccine support stipend is to ensure that, when the time comes, Instacart shoppers don’t have to choose between earning income as an essential service provider or getting vaccinated,” Instacart CEO Apoorva Mehta said. The online grocery platform said it will provide a $25 stipend for workers.
With long lines to navigate and disorganization characterizing the roll out so far, getting a vaccine is not necessarily easy, and the time off to get the vaccine potentially means lost wages, which is why some companies are giving two to four hours of paid time off.
Companies play one of the most important roles in the vaccine rollout and could mandate vaccinations, but many will choose other softer measures like these or for workers.
On Jan. 13, Dollar General (DG), which has more than 17,000 stores stores in the U.S., said in a press release: “We do not want our employees to have to choose between receiving a vaccine or coming to work, so we are working to remove barriers (e.g., travel time, mileage, child care needs, etc.) by providing frontline hourly team members with a one-time payment equivalent of four (4) hours of regular pay after receiving a completed COVID-19 vaccination and salaried team members with additional store labor hours to accommodate their time away from the store.”
Grocery chain Trader Joe’s said it will pay its workers two hours of their regular pay per dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, The Wall Street Journal reported.
On Jan. 19, grocery retailer Aldi said in a press release that it “is ensuring that all hourly workers who wish to receive the vaccine are able to do so without concern about losing pay or taking time away from work. The company 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.”
On Jan. 20, Lidl, a grocery chain based in Germany, said it would be offering $200 for U.S. workers to get the vaccine.
On Jan. 21, Brazilian meatpacking company JBS with U.S. operations and its subsidiary Pilgrim Pride announced it would pay workers $100 to get vaccinated.
Yahoo Finance will continue to update this story.