Many U.S. Firms Won’t Require COVID-19 Vaccines

Instead, some companies will incentivize and encourage employees to get vaccinated.

December 23, 2020

WASHINGTON—Some of the biggest U.S. companies will not mandate that employees be vaccinated against COVID-19, the Wall Street Journal reports. Instead, businesses like Facebook, Discover Financial Services and Marriott will rely on encouragement and incentives to help employees get vaccinated.

Last week, the EEOC said employers could require workers to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, with certain exceptions. The convenience and fuel retail industry will receive priority in Phase 1-B of vaccine distribution.

Some companies will push cash or 401(k) contributions as incentives to get workers to be inoculated, similar to how they motivate employees to use wellness benefits. Some may also prohibit unvaccinated workers from particular activities or events. Still others will allow public health officials to vaccinate in their facilities to make it easier for workers to get the shots.

This approach lines up with how big companies have handled the flu shots. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said earlier this month in an all-staff virtual meeting that COVID-19 vaccination would not be required before returning to the office, adding that he would get the vaccine himself.

Discover said it would encourage workers to get the vaccine but declined to make it a condition of employment. Both Facebook and Discover have indicated staff would work remotely until at least the summer of 2021.

Emerson Electric first considered mandating all 90,000 workers be vaccinated but decided against it. “We can mandate it, but that would be the wrong way to go,” said CEO David Farr. “We wouldn’t get the best results that way.” Rather, the company will now reward those who do and put limitations on those who do not.

Marriott International is in discussion about bringing medical professionals to administer the shots to personnel, but it hasn’t determined whether getting one would be required. “I think all of us know that we need to respect personal freedoms and liberty,” CEO Arne Sorenson said. “But at the same time, we need to make sure we’re protecting each other.”

For more information about navigating mandatory vaccinations for employees, read “Legal Experts Offer Vaccine Advice for Employers,” in NACS Daily.

Coronavirus Resources
NACS has compiled resources to help the convenience retail community navigate the COVID-19 crisis. For news updates and guidance, visit our coronavirus resources page.