Benefits and Compensation, Coronavirus (COVID-19), HR Management & Compliance

Pros and Cons of Vaccine Incentives

Now that the COVID-19 vaccine is becoming more available, employers are thinking of ways to ensure their employees are vaccinated. This can be useful not only to keep all employees safe but also to give the public a sense of safety when frequenting the facility.

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Some employers have created employee incentives to prompt eligible employees to get vaccinated. For example:

  • They may offer x number of hours or days of extra paid time off (PTO) specifically to get vaccinated and recover from any side effects.
  • Employers can offer to cover any costs associated with getting the vaccine, such as lost wages, gas or other transportation costs, etc.
  • Some employers are also paying a direct monetary incentive for those who get vaccinated, such as a specified amount of money or x hours of pay.

Pros of Vaccine Incentives

Like many initiatives, this one has pros and cons. Here are some potential advantages:

  • Having an incentive likely means more employees will be vaccinated sooner, which can keep your workforce, vendors, and clients safer.
  • There should be less disruption due to illness in the coming months.
  • It can be a PR opportunity for both hiring and customers.
  • It shows employees you care about their well-being.
  • It can encourage people who were on the fence to get the vaccine.
  • An incentive is a friendlier alternative to punitive actions against those who do not get it. (Though such actions are also legal, with caveats.)
  • Employees and customers will feel safer knowing their colleagues have received the vaccine.

Cons of Vaccine Incentives

Here are some potential drawbacks:

  • For employees who don’t wish to be vaccinated, it may feel like either undue pressure or an unfair benefit they won’t receive.
  • It could spark heated debates in the workplace, as vaccinations can be a controversial topic.
  • There will be costs involved that need to be budgeted for.
  • Those who can’t get the vaccine—because of medical conditions, for example—may feel this is unfair. Because of this, some business groups have reached out to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for guidance.
  • Some employees may take advantage of the incentives—for example, by taking the maximum amount of PTO allowed regardless of whether all of it is needed.

For employers that want to encourage rather than incentivize vaccination, there are also options. For example:

  • Employers can provide updated information on vaccination availability and how to sign up. Simply helping with the logistics can go a long way.
  • Employers can provide confirmation from their health insurance provider (if applicable) on vaccine cost coverage.
  • Employers can post information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about vaccine recommendations and FAQs.
  • It also may be possible in the future to work with local providers to see if there are options to offer the vaccine at the employer’s site or nearby.