Whilst a few organisations are moving towards making the COVID-19 vaccination mandatory in the workplace, some business owners may instead choose to take on more of a support role in encouraging employees to receive the vaccine. For business owners who would like to increase the rate of vaccination at work without going so far as to mandate it, there are a few important factors to consider.
In order to boost vaccination rates, some employers may offer rewards to employees through any number of incentive programs. There are many ways in which business owners could incentivise vaccinations for their employees such as store vouchers, one-off bonuses or gift cards. Other ways could include paid time off outside of existing personal leave accruals or reimbursing any out-of-pocket costs associated with the vaccination. There are many options.
An important consideration, however, is whether or not any discrimination may arise out of an incentive program, that could potentially be unlawful. An example of this could be the exclusion of workers from access to rewards who are unable to get vaccinated on medical grounds. It’s important to think about whether the conditions of the incentive program are reasonable, and if appropriate exemptions can be put in place
Just as important, although rare, is the risk associated with an employee having a significant adverse reaction to the vaccine when participating in an employer incentive program. Such injury or harm to an employee has the potential to result in an employee claim in some situations, and should be part of the risk assessment when looking at implementing a voluntary vaccination scheme.
In support of this, employers should clearly outline to workers that receiving the vaccination is voluntary, it is not mandated or a condition of employment, and employees have the right to choose whether or not to receive the vaccination. Any incentive that is associated with having the vaccination is merely a benefit of vaccination and should in no way be considered payment for receiving it.
By motivating employees to get the vaccine, employers may view an incentive-based program as not only assisting in public heath efforts to combat COVID-19, but as protecting the health of the business by ensuring the health of its workers. Before doing so, however, employers should take the time to carefully work through the details of any incentive program and undertake appropriate consultation.
Need assistance assessing your options in relation to vaccinations in the workplace, get in touch with our team.
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