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Coalition asks Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to issue guidance on COVID-19 vaccination

Groups seeking clarification on how employers can lawfully offer incentives for employees to receive vaccine

February 11, 2021

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — The ADA and a coalition of more than 40 stakeholders are asking the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to issue guidance regarding employer-provided incentives and the COVID-19 vaccine.

In a Feb. 1 letter, the coalition, led by the National Retail Federation, said it is hopeful that COVID-19 vaccines will “provide a pathway to safely restart the economy,” and in turn, the groups would like to assist in facilitating and expediting the vaccination process.

“We write asking the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to quickly issue guidance clarifying the extent to which employers may offer employees incentives to vaccinate without running afoul of the Americans With Disabilities Act and other laws enforced by the EEOC,” they wrote.

“Employer-provided incentives can assist governments in quickly and efficiently distributing vaccines,” the groups said. “Legal uncertainty about providing such incentives, however, has many employers concerned over liability and has made them hesitant to act. We, therefore, urge the EEOC to issue guidance providing clarification on the extent to which employers may offer their employees incentives to vaccinate.”

“To ensure the guidance is as effective and efficient as possible, we also encourage the EEOC to define what qualifies as a permissible incentive as broadly as possible,” they continued.

“We recognize that wellness incentives have been closely scrutinized over the years and are the subject of recent regulations,” the letter concluded. “We believe, however, that the paramount needs of the current crisis can be distinguished from wellness programs. We strongly encourage the EEOC to act quickly and provide guidance on this important issue.”

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