COVID-19 Vaccines: Employers Should be Cautious With Incentives and Fraud

As we highlighted in our recent webinar on the COVID-19 vaccine legal + HR challenges for employers, there's many considerations an organization should weigh when taking a stance on the vaccine for your workplace.

In recent weeks we've seen some additional information pertaining to COVID vaccines that employers should be aware of. This blog shares 1) why you should think twice about incentivizing employees to take the vaccine and 2) the growing trend of COVID-19 vaccine related fraud and scams.

Don't Give Employees Incentives to be Vaccinated - At Least Not Yet (as of this writing on February 18, 2021)

Although most of us are still “waiting our turn” for the opportunity to be vaccinated, things seem to be ramping up, and availability should increase over the next few months. With that in mind, employers may think that they are doing employees a favor by offering cash incentives or additional paid time off in exchange for the employee getting vaccinated.

The ADA (American’s With Disabilities Act) which is enforced by the EEOC, specifically prohibits employers from “coercing employees to participate in wellness activities”. If getting vaccinated is defined as a wellness activity, then employers must not offer incentives to do so. Or, if they do, they may need to provide an accommodation due to disability or religious objection. In this context, an accommodation would mean providing the employee with an alternative way to earn the incentive without being vaccinated. It may be wise to hold off on instituting vaccine incentive programs until the EEOC clarifies the rules.

COVID-19 Vaccine Related Scams and Fraud

One of our insurance carrier partners informed us this past week that they've seen an uptick in the number of COVID-19 vaccine-related fraud and scams. 

If someone calls, texts or emails one of your employees promising access to the COVID-19 vaccine for a fee, the employee should not share their personal or financial information.

  • No one should be asking an employee to pay to put their name on a list to get the vaccine.
  • No one should be asking an employee to pay to get early access to a vaccine.

The Federal Trade Commission provided a flier you can share with your employees or post at your workplace on 3 tips for avoiding COVID-19 vaccine scams.

Three Ways to Avoid COVID-19 Vaccine Scams Infographic

If you have any questions about this information please contact your HR consulting team at Connor & Gallagher OneSource (CGO) or email us at info@GoCGO.com and we'll direct you to the right person to help.

Publish date: February 18, 2021

This blog is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice.

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