- Employers should offer paid sick leave to employees with "signs and symptoms" following COVID-19 vaccination, according to guidance updated March 16 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Employers should consider on-site vaccination programs if they have a large workforce with predictable schedules and enough space to run a clinic that meets social distancing requirements, CDC said. Employers that choose to offer vaccinations should record each offer and employees' decisions. Employers should consider off-site vaccination if they are a small- or medium-sized organization lacking the resources to host a vaccination clinic, it said.
- The agency also said that whether an employer may require COVID-19 vaccinations is a matter of state or other applicable law but noted that exemptions may apply: Medical exemptions for people who are at risk for an adverse reaction because of an allergy to one of the components used in the vaccine or a medical condition; and religious exemptions for people who reject being vaccinated because of their religious beliefs.
Generally, the trend among employers is to offer vaccination incentives. Kroger offered a $100 cash payment, while Chobani gave workers up to six hours' paid time off to get vaccinated. Target went further, adding in free Lyft rides to workers traveling to get their vaccines.
Some incentives may create compliance issues for employers. Management-side attorneys have suggested that paid time off can create the potential for abuse, while cash awards may run afoul of U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) rules.
Mandates, with opportunities for exemptions, may be legal under federal nondiscrimination, according to EEOC, although management-side attorneys have recommended caution.
While pondering which approach to take, employers should also consult local and state laws. New York passed a law requiring that employers provide employees with paid time off so that workers can get vaccinated. Illinois recently published guidance indicating that if an employer requires employees to receive the coronavirus vaccine, then the time employees spend obtaining the vaccine is most likely compensable under state and federal law. The state also suggested that employers review leave and vaccination policies and revise them in a way to encourage employees to get the coronavirus vaccine.