On January 19, 2021, grocery chain Aldi joined the small list of retailers promising to put their money where their mouth is on the topic of worker vaccinations. They’ll not only cover the cost, but Aldi workers will be paid two hours’ hourly wage to go and get each dose. This measure has been undertaken to ensure that “all hourly workers who wish to receive the vaccine are able to do so without concern about losing pay or taking time away from work,” according to a company news release.
So far, the other major U.S. companies who have made similar offers are Dollar General, Trader Joe’s, and the gig-delivery service Instacart.
Trader Joe’s and Dollar General will also pay for four hours of time to get the vaccine, and Instacart will have a “vaccine support stipend” of $25 or any worker who has delivered at least 5 times in the past 30 days.
While the news has talked a fair bit about vaccine mandates from employers and any CEOs have indicated they’d consider it, so far no major companies have decided on that course. At this stage, a mandate would be useless, since supply issues mean that most states are still only vaccinating their front-line workers and those living and working in care homes. Essential workers like grocery store employees and delivery drivers have a place in the priority chain, but no state is there yet.
“Right now, encouraging employees to get vaccinated and creating that leave policy for that purpose is a great idea,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, a vaccine expert. He says that any mandate at this point would be “too provocative.”
It is interesting to see that three of the grocery chains most aimed at low-income areas are stepping up, while retailers like Safeway, Kroger, and Amazon remain silent on the matter.
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