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Should Employers Provide Incentives for Employees to Get Vaccinated?

Weighing the Harms and Benefits to Employers and Employees of Requiring Vaccination

Last week I blogged about whether employers can mandate Covid-19 vaccinations for all employees. It is legal for employers to require the vaccination as long as they conform to safety and discrimination laws as set out by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and is in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Requiring vaccination can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand it does bring safety and security into the workplace and protects all employees. On the other hand, it encroaches on an individual’s rights to decide for themselves whether to get vaccination. Each of us possess certain rights and free choice is one of them.

Since it is considered legal to require vaccination, I will continue looking at what some companies are doing to provide incentives to employees to get vaccinated.

President Biden has called upon employers to offer full pay for employers for the time off needed to get vaccinated and recovery time after. For small businesses with fewer than 500 employees, he announced a tax credit that provides full pay for any of their employees who get a vaccination.

A common incentive is a one-time cash payment to any employee who receives both doses of the vaccine, and the one for Johnson & Johnson. The incentives tend to range from $50 to $500, with most being in the $100 range.

Here is a partial list of employers and their incentives as reported by the US Chamber of Commerce. Vaccine

  • Target: Retail giant Target has teamed up with Lyft to provide their employees up to $15 and rides to and from their vaccine appointments. It also offers employees up to four hours of pay for work time missed.
  • Kroger: Grocery conglomerate Kroger is offering its employees a one-time payment of $100 if they show proof of their vaccination. If employees decline the vaccine due to religious or health reasons, they can take a health and safety course provided by Kroger and receive the payment.
  • Chobani: The food and yogurt company announced that it will cover six hours of time off in total in order for its employees to get vaccinated. It also hosted on-site vaccination clinics once more of its employees became eligible.
  • American Airlines: To incentivize its employees to get vaccinated, American Airlines offered extra vacation days in 2020 as well as $50 in its employee recognition program.
  • Marriott: Marriott and its portfolio of international hotels are offering all employees paid time off for their vaccinations. It is also providing them with education on the vaccines and offering scheduling flexibility for appointments.

I admit to having mixed feelings about requiring vaccination. Employers should be careful to think through the consequences of not requiring vaccination. Will that create a division within the company between those who have gotten vaccinated and those who have not. Could it lead to nasty posts on social media by one group or the other? Might it result in cyberbullying.

The opposite is true as well. If all employees must get vaccinated might that lead some employees to become disgruntled and start a social media campaign about the company’s taking away their rights?

I also think providing incentives to do something we all should do anyway to protect ourselves and others smacks of bribery. But this may not be such a bad thing in this case.

In the end, employers should weigh the harms of requiring vaccination against the benefits and decide whether to require vaccination based on the net benefits of each alternative. It builds of fairness into the process.

Posted by Dr. Steven Mintz, The Ethics Sage, on June 23, 2021. You can sign up for his newsletter and learn more about his activities at: Follow him on Facebook at: and on Twitter at: