(WSYM) — Should employees be paid to be vaccinated? What about extra paid time off? Could an incentive help cure vaccine hesitancy?
More than 40 organizations from many industries have asked the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to provide clarity on how to offer vaccination incentives without violating the Americans With Disabilities Act and other labor laws.
In the meantime, a number of employers in Michigan have already announced incentives to making getting vaccinated a bit easier on their employees and woo potential applicants.
Kroger announced back in February that it will provide a one-time payment of $100 to employees who get fully vaccinated and now, many local businesses are launching programs of their own.
Michigan-based Wallside Windows helps the light shine in metro Detroit homes and now they are aiming to brighten the day of their employees as well.
“We’re encouraging not only our employees, but all of our contractors to go out and get vaccinated," Chief of Staff Adam Blanck said. "We are giving them a $100 gift card once they show that they are fully vaccinated."
On Friday, General RV also announced a $100 bonus to employees who can show they have been fully vaccinated by mid-June.
Canine to Five, a pet grooming and boarding business, is offering $50, plus paid time off, to each employee and then an extra $100 bonus if the entire team gets vaccinated.
Teachers who are fully vaccinated in the Detroit Public Schools Community District are being offered a $500 bonus and two days of paid time off to compensate for potential downtime due to side effects.
At a time when vaccinations are slowing down, local institutions and businesses are ramping up and some are hoping that vaccine incentives help to safely re-open.
“Hopefully provides an extra boost for people to go and get their shots,” says Blanck.
Not everyone agrees with the idea of incentives.
“I don’t believe in paying somebody to do something to save their lives,” says Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.
Legal experts caution that a large vaccine incentive could be considered coercion, also advising businesses to consider offering an alternative way for employees to earn a bonus who medically can not take the vaccine.
The EEOC has promised to provide federal guidance, but has not said when that guidance will come.
Many businesses have moved ahead, offering paid time off or modest monetary incentives to support their staff and, in some cases, even to aid in recruiting efforts.
“We think that this is not only a great thing to offer our current employees, but we are also actively hiring and looking for people to join our team,” says Blanck.