- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will update its coronavirus guidance to include information on vaccine incentives, the agency’s acting legal counsel told stakeholders in an April 15 letter shared with HR Dive.
- That promise came after employers and business groups — including the Society for Human Resource Management, the HR Policy Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — requested such information from the commission Feb. 1.
- The letter did not indicate what position the agency would take or when it would make such information public. "Your letter specifically asks the EEOC to 'clarify[…] the extent to which employers may offer employees incentives to vaccinate without running afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act [ADA] and other laws enforced by the EEOC,'" wrote Carol Miaskoff, acting legal counsel. "The agency expects to update its technical assistance about COVID-19 to address these issues, among others, and that work is ongoing."
With vaccine rollout in the U.S. in full swing and the White House encouraging employers to incentivize vaccination, "it’s almost too late, quite frankly," said Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the American Health Policy Institute and VP of health and employment policy for the HR Policy Association.
"We — and I think I can speak for the broader business community here — were very disappointed with the response that we received from the EEOC after two months or so," he told HR Dive.
Stakeholders were hoping for timely guidance on whether incentives would infringe upon federal nondiscrimination laws, he said, but many have already announced such benefits. Some opted for cash incentives, some offered paid time off and others covered transportation to and from vaccine appointments.
Perhaps muddying the waters, the White House on Wednesday urged all employers to provide paid time off for employees receiving or recovering from the vaccine, and announced a tax credit for small and medium businesses that do so. Wilson, a former U.S. Department of Labor official, said he would like to encourage the White House to reach out to the EEOC to ask that it provide guidance on this area.