Trader Joe’s, Instacart, Dollar General Will Pay Workers to Get Vaccinated

Trader Joe’s is the latest business offering financial incentives to encourage their workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

The grocery chain said Thursday it will give employees two hours of pay per dose for getting the vaccine. The Monrovia, California based company said it will also shift around schedules to make sure employees have time to get vaccinated, according USA Today.

Instacart, the online grocery-delivery service, announced Thursday that it would provide a $25 stipend for workers to offset them taking time to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The company will begin giving the vaccine support stipend Feb. 1 to eligible workers as the vaccination programs roll out across the U.S. and Canada.

“With COVID-19 cases continuing to rise across the country, we’re taking proactive steps to advocate that government agencies recognize Instacart shoppers as critical essential workers who deserve early access to vaccines,” said Instacart CEO and founder Apoorva Mehta in a statement.

“Our goal with the introduction of our new Vaccine Support Stipend is to ensure that, when the time comes, Instacart shoppers don’t have to choose between earning income as an essential service provider or getting vaccinated,” Mehta said.

Dollar General, which operates nearly 17,000 stores in 46 states and employs 157,000 people, said Wednesday it will give employees the equivalent of four hours of pay if they get the vaccine. The Goodlettsville, Tennessee-based retailer said its salaried employees would get additional hours’ pay to make up for time away from work.

Dollar General said the extra pay is intended to compensate for the travel time, mileage and child care expenses that employees could incur to get the vaccine. “We do not want our employees to have to choose between receiving a vaccine or coming to work,” the company said.

A vaccine advisory panel for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control voted late last month on recommendations for vaccine distribution. The panel decided grocery workers should be in the second group to receive shots after health care workers and nursing home residents, according to the Associated Press. Firefighters, police, teachers, corrections workers, postal employees and others are in that second group, along with people 75 and older.

In the US, there are currently no laws at the federal or state level that could mandate Covid-19 vaccines. According to Laura Boudreau, assistant professor of economics, Columbia Business School, Incentives for employees offer an alternative way to encourage workers to get the vaccine, as opposed to mandating them to get shots.

“We know there is a fairly sizable share of the population who don’t want to get the vaccine or are reluctant to do so,” she said. “So it makes complete sense, to me, that we see employers with frontline workers trying to reduce the barriers for their employees to access the vaccines and maybe increasingly directly providing monetary incentives.”

Christopher Thompson, associate professor of biology at Loyola University Maryland expects to see more companies consider moves such as those from Dollar General and Instacart.

“I think there’s a big drive to return to some semblance of normalcy and if this is a way to try and push that, I think companies will do it,” Thompson said. “They may let Dollar General go first. But I think they very well may get in line.”

 

About Catherine Smith

Catherine Smith is a newcomer to Washington D.C. She met, and married an American journalist and moved to D.C from the U.K. She graduated with a B.A in Graphic, Media and Communications and worked in design and retail in the U.K.

Photo: Nicolò Campo/LightRocket via Getty Images

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