As the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to spread, many businesses have begun to mandate that their employees get vaccinated as a condition of employment. While there are innumerable benefits to having a fully vaccinated workforce, not every employer may want to pursue such a heavy-handed approach. Alternatively, employers may consider offering non-vaccinated employees incentives to get vaccinated.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has approved the use of incentives to encourage vaccinations in the workplace. However, it has noted that vaccination incentives cannot be so substantial as to be deemed coercive. Permissible incentives generally range from extra paid days off to free beer or lottery tickets. When determining what incentives to offer, it is critical that employers keep in mind that anything over a de minimus type of incentive may risk being deemed coercive. It is also important to note that employers cannot offer incentives to employees to have their family members vaccinated, as this would lead to the employer’s receipt of genetic information in the form of family history thereby running afoul of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA Act).
We recommend consulting with legal counsel to determine which approach is best for your business.