Companies Wrestle With Vaccine Requirements

Many would prefer employees return to work fully vaccinated, but few want to mandate it.

May 12, 2021

Getting the Coronavirus Vaccine

NEW YORK—As offices reopen across the United States, companies are still trying to walk the tightrope between encouraging COVID-19 vaccinations and requiring them, the New York Times reports. In December, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued guidance that said employers could mandate vaccination with exemptions for religious beliefs and disabilities.

While legally, this guidance means employers are free to mandate COVID-19 shots, many businesses are still hesitant to adopt that policy because of concerns over potential litigation.

“It would seem to me that employers are going to find themselves in a fairly strong position legally,” said Eric Feldman, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, “But that doesn’t mean they’re not going to get sued.”

To avoid ending up in court, many businesses are turning to incentives to boost worker vaccination rates, including treats, paid time off and cash bonuses. For example, Pilot announced in April it would pay employees $75 to get the COVID-19 shot.

For guidance on how to navigate your own vaccination issues, check out the COVID-19 vaccination response plan developed by NACS member company StrasGlobal. Which is available to all retailers looking for guidance on employee vaccinations. Convenience Matters also has a bonus episode on the topic, which you can listen to here.

Earlier this year, NACS joined the Veterans Coalition for Vaccination to help promote a national PSA to encourage full vaccination called #ThisIsOurShot.

Coronavirus Resources

NACS has compiled resources to help the convenience retail community navigate the COVID-19 crisis, including information about how to educate employees about the vaccines and other vaccine-related human resources advice. For news updates and guidance, visit our coronavirus resources page.