HR Policy Association

HR Policy Seeks Timely Federal Guidance on Vaccination Incentives

Published on: February 5, 2021

Authors: D. Mark Wilson

Topics: COVID-19 Employer Issues, Employment Law

HR Policy asked the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission “to 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.”

Background: Recently posted proposed wellness rules only allow employers to offer employees a de minimis incentive (such as a water bottle or gift card of modest value) to participate in certain wellness programs.  This has raised questions about whether employers can offer effective incentives for vaccinations.

The letter, which was signed by several groups, notes “employer-provided incentives can assist governments in quickly and efficiently distributing vaccines.”  However, legal uncertainty about providing such incentives has many employers concerned over liability and hesitant to act.

The letter asks the EEOC “to define what qualifies as a permissible incentive as broadly as possible.”

Outlook:  While some employers have already announced vaccine incentives, it is unclear if or when the EEOC will provide guidance.  Patient or consumer groups may object to large incentives as inconsistent with the ADA.