Paying employees to be vaccinated against Covid. (Is that repugnant? Could it be illegal??)

from Market Design at on January 31, 2021 at 01:34PM

 Apparently paying workers to get vaccinated (even giving them paid time off to get vaccinated) may face some legal complications.

The Washington Post has the story:

Why grocery chains are paying workers to get vaccinated, but other industries are lagging   by By Jena McGregor and Taylor Telford

"A number of leading grocery chains are offering small cash bonuses and other incentives to encourage employees to get the coronavirus vaccine, in an effort that experts say could help speed protection of some of the country’s most vulnerable workers: low-paid, hourly retail workers.

"Dollar General, Trader Joe’s, Aldi and Lidl, as well as Instacart, have announced plans to promote the vaccine among employees, including flexible work schedules, paid time off to visit a vaccination site and bonuses of up to $200.

"The restaurant industry may also be moving toward incentives. On Tuesday, Darden Restaurants, which employs more than 175,000 workers across Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse and many more brands, said it would offer up to four hours of paid time off to get the vaccine.

"However, few other companies have followed suit, potentially in part because of legal uncertainties involved with health screening questionnaires leading up to vaccination.

"Some lawyers believe companies will be able to successfully argue that the required screening questions for the coronavirus vaccine meet the standard of being needed for the business. 

"But others say the screening questions could complicate things if they’re seen as being part of a “voluntary wellness program,” which may limit the incentives companies can offer. If the employer contracts with an outside firm to vaccinate employees or has its own staff inoculate workers, new proposed rules from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which says incentives can only be “de minimus” in size, might apply. The proposed rules give examples like a water bottle or gift card of “modest value.”