At least four major grocery brands have announced they will pay workers to get their shots.

By Mike Pomranz
January 20, 2021
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Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, grocery store employees have been recognized as essential workers. Now, as vaccines are rolling out—hopefully signaling the start of a return to some sense of normality—many grocers are incentivizing their employees to be among the first to get their shots.

At least four major grocery brands have announced that they will pay their employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine: Dollar General, Instacart, Trader Joe's, and Aldi—which made their announcement yesterday. "Since the onset of the pandemic, our entire Aldi team has worked to keep stores safe and stocked, and serve communities without interruption," Jason Hart, CEO for Aldi U.S., stated. "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."

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Different companies are taking different approaches to these incentives, but with similar results. Aldi said they would "cover costs associated with vaccine administration and will provide employees with two hours of pay for each dose they receive, up to four hours total, as well as scheduling flexibility for salaried employees."

That policy is nearly identical to one announced by Trader Joe's, which on Thursday said that workers would receive "an additional two hours of regular pay per dose for taking the time to get vaccinated," a company spokesperson told CNN.

Also last week, Dollar General opted to offer a lump sum for essentially the same amount, "providing frontline hourly team members with a one-time payment equivalent of four hours of regular pay after receiving a completed COVID-19 vaccination and salaried team members with additional store labor hours to accommodate their time away from the store," according to a press release. The chain explained that similar options would be available to the distribution and transportation teams, as well.

Meanwhile, grocery delivery service Instacart said they created a "Vaccine Support Stipend" which will be available "to shift leads, in-store shoppers, and full-service shoppers beginning February 1." The company continued, "Eligible shoppers will receive $25 to ensure that, when the time comes, you don't have to choose between earning income as an essential service provider or getting vaccinated."

Of course, the stores also benefit from having a healthy, protected workforce to keep their operations running and customers feeling safe. Still, as CNBC pointed out, other companies could attempt to make vaccines mandatory for workers, in which case these employees would have to get their shots on their own time and dime. Compared to that option, offering paid support seems like a win-win.