Supermarket Chains to Pay Employees to Vaccinate

Fight the virus and get paid to do so.

It’s not an especially pleasant time to be a supermarket employee (and it’s usually no bowl of cherries). With COVID-19 infections still on the rise, supermarket employees nevertheless have to put themselves in close proximity of a large quantity of people on a regular basis, raising their chances of contracting the virus. If these brave men and women have to be in the thick of things every day, they ought to be one of the first groups to receive vaccinations. Multiple retailers seem to agree with this notion, which is why some have begun offering monetary incentives to do so.

Grocery chain Aldi announced today that they would be compensating any employee that chooses to get vaccinated with two hours’ worth of pay for both of the two shots. Additionally, if an employee has to miss any work to get vaccinated, they will still receive pay for the time they missed, and if affording a shot is a concern, the company would be happy to help.

“Providing accommodations so employees can receive this critical vaccine is one more way we can support them and eliminate the need to choose between earning their wages and protecting their well-being,” said Jason Hart, CEO of Aldi U.S., in a statement.

Aldi is the latest in a small, but growing group of supermarket chains enacting similar policies, including Trader Joe’s and Dollar General. With any luck, these incentives will help the US reach the 70-90% vaccine saturation required to reach general herd immunity, based on the estimations of Dr. Anthony Fauci.

However, while some legal experts have debated that retailers have the right to require vaccination, all of the aforementioned chains have stressed that the incentives are entirely optional, as some people may have medical or religious concerns that prevent vaccination.

“We understand the decision to receive the COVID-19 vaccination is a personal choice,” a Dollar General spokesperson said after the chain announced its incentives. “And although we are encouraging employees to take it, we are not requiring them to do so.”

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