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Volume XI, Number 135

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EEOC Will Issue Guidance on COVID-19 Vaccine Incentive Programs Offered by Employers

Lawmakers and many employer organizations have urged the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) to issue guidance to companies that are considering providing incentives to employees who get the COVID-19 vaccine. Specifically, Sen. Richard Burr and Rep. Virginia Foxx stressed the importance of guiding employers that want to protect their employees stating,

“Employers actively working to protect their employees by increasing the number of workers receiving vaccinations through incentive programs are seeking assurance this action is allowable and does not violate important labor laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act…”

In response, just a few days ago Carol Miaskoff, the EEOC’s acting legal counsel, stated that the agency expects to update its technical assistance to address these issues, but that the work is still ongoing. She did not indicate when the EEOC would issue its guidance.

Even without the promised guidance, many employers have offered incentives to their employees who receive the COVID-19 vaccine, including paid time off and cash bonuses, but the concern is the legality of the incentive programs. Do these incentives violate federal anti-bias laws? Do they violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? If an employee cannot receive the vaccine for medical or religious reasons, how are those employees being treated?

Employers should be careful when offering incentives to employees prior to the EEOC’s guidance. Things to consider before offering incentives are to look at the size of the incentive, meaning if the incentive is too large, it may lose its “voluntary” status, the value of the incentive, and to ensure there isn’t a disability-related inquiry of the employees.

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©2021 Roetzel & AndressNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 110
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About this Author

Amanda Connelly Labor Employment Attorney Roetzel Andress Law Firm Columbus
Associate

Ms. Connelly’s practice is focused in the area of labor and employment, with an emphasis on defending companies and businesses in a variety of employee-employer related issues. Ms. Connelly primarily represents businesses and its management. She provides counsel in areas such as hiring, firing, and discipline of employees, and also defends employers in court or before federal and state government agencies.

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