Common wisdom holds that encouraging behavior through incentives is usually the better course.
Over the years we have encouraged better health outcomes by paying people to take health risk assessments, to stop smoking, to lose weight and other activities that can help avoid chronic conditions.
But paying people to take a vaccine? That’s a new one.
Last week, Instacart announced they will pay workers $25 if they get the COVID-19 vaccine, as reported by Alexandra Olson and Dee-Ann Durbin of the AP.
They joined Trader Joe’s who said it will give employees two hours of pay per dose. That’s a payment plan none of us have ever heard of before. But the company is determined to ensure its workers are protected and will even move their schedules around to accommodate vaccine schedules.
Dollar General is matching that and will give employees four hours of pay to get the vaccine.
While this is a progressive way to encourage people to get vaccinated, it brings up the other side of the coin. Can companies actually require employees to get vaccinated? While there isn't yet a consensus about this, the direction experts see this going is that employers do have a lot of leeway in what they can require.
In an article written by David Sparkman for EHS, he reported the following:
When it comes to vaccinating the workforce, Sherelle Wu, an attorney for the law firm of Bowditch & Dewey, points out that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) permits employers to establish what are considered legitimate health and safety policies so long as they are job-related and consistent with business necessity.
Another government entity, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has allowed companies to mandate the flu and other vaccines, and according to the AP article, they have said they can require COVID-19 vaccines.
Of course, employees can cite medical or religious reasons for not getting vaccinated.
But the concept of getting out ahead of the issue and offering financial incentives to get the vaccine, in my opinion, is a more positive way of approaching the issue.