Some employers have made headlines by offering employees incentives to get the COVID-19 vaccination, including paid time off and high value gift cards, among others. But do those incentives violate federal law? Time will tell.
On February 1, a group of organizations representing national employers, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, sent a letter to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission requesting that it “quickly issue guidance clarifying the extent to which employers may offer employees incentives to vaccinate without running afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws enforced by the EEOC.” The request was necessitated by recent guidance issued by the EEOC, discussed in our article last month.
In that recent guidance, the EEOC did not provide any other information about what an employer must do to ensure that its program is considered voluntary or the types of incentives that are legally permissible.
Faced with uncertainty about which incentives are legally permissible, some employers are reluctant to begin a vaccination incentive program while others dove right in. In any event, employers who choose to adopt a voluntary vaccination policy should carefully consider the type and value of incentives they offer as well as the method of administering the vaccine. Stay tuned, as our Labor and Employment team is keeping close tabs on any guidance from the EEOC.