Surprisingly, yes. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) allows employers to offer incentives to employees with proof of vaccination. To encourage employees to become fully vaccinated, employers can offer a wide variety of incentives, such as:
- Paid leave to receive the vaccine (where not already required by law)
- Transportation to vaccine clinics
- Childcare vouchers
- Expense reimbursements
- Monetary incentives, such as cash or gift cards
The important thing to note is that incentives are voluntary. Incentives must be seen as a bonus or a gift, and not a benefit employees are deprived of. Incentives cross the line when they can be seen as a coercive tactic to get employees fully vaccinated.
WHAT IF AN EMPLOYEE IS UNABLE TO GET THE COVID-19 VACCINE?
The EEOC has not addressed the question of: Does an employer must provide an alternative way for an employee to earn the incentive if that employee is unable to get the COVID-19 vaccine? Employers should consult Uplift Law to discuss how rules governing wellness programs and requirements for providing reasonable accommodations for disabilities, sincerely held religious beliefs, and pregnancy may impact vaccine incentive programs.
INCENTIVE AWARD IDEAS YOU SHOULD PROBABLY STAY AWAY FROM
Something to avoid is running a lottery to award a substantial prize to someone picked at random for supplying proof of vaccination. This type of program could conflict with anti-gambling laws and the EEOC’s position on coercive incentives.
Another idea to avoid is posting a list of all the employees who have received a reward for getting vaccinated. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), information about an employee’s COVID-19 vaccination, like all medical information, must be kept confidential. It must also be stored separately from the employee’s personnel file. This ADA confidentiality requirement applies regardless of where the employee gets the vaccination.
WOULD OFFERING AN INCENTIVE TO ONLY VACCINATED EMPLOYEES VIOLATE THE LAW?
Be careful! If your state or local jurisdiction has enacted a law that prohibits discrimination based on vaccination status, offering an incentive only to vaccinated employees could violate the law.
Call Uplift Law for any COVID-19 related questions. We will navigate your business through all constant changes related to COVID-19.