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Companies compensating employees for COVID-19 vaccine

Posted at 11:40 PM, Feb 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-08 23:47:17-05

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — To get vaccinated or not to get vaccinated. That seems to be the big question for 2021. Some companies have raised the stakes to help some employees make that decision.

Kroger is paying employees $100 to get vaccinated. McDonalds, Dollar General, and Aldi are compensating workers for the 4 hours total it could take to get vaccinated. That includes travel and wait time for both doses.

Labor and employment law expert Benjamin Yormak says the incentive is not as straightforward as it seems. You’re not only handing over your personal information, protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and other laws, companies run the risk of not providing an equal opportunity for all workers.

“Incentivizing certain people to do it, but then not basically paying others who can’t get it, could potentially raise the issue of discrimination,” he said.

Yormak is referring to people who have religious beliefs or medical conditions that would prevent them from getting vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t say who shouldn’t get vaccinated, but their site mentions there’s limited data on how it affects pregnant women.

Yormak says seemingly unfair treatment could go both ways when considering this incentive.

“There might not be a requirement that that person submits themselves to getting the vaccine, but there also might not be a requirement for the employer to keep them employed,” he said.

Right now most employers don’t require it, but Yormak says they have the right to require workers to get vaccinated, if not doing so could put the entire business at risk.