Returning to work? Companies reveal vaccine policies

These firms are making headlines for their approach

Returning to work? Companies reveal vaccine policies

From hundreds of dollars in cash bonuses to additional paid time off, employers are getting creative when it comes to rewarding staff members who take the COVID-19 vaccine. But while some companies are leaving the decision to their employees, other firms are introducing workplace regulations that have repercussions against those who are reluctant to get vaccinated.

HRD will continue to update this rolling list as and when new policies emerge.   

Amazon

E-commerce giant Amazon partnered with government leaders to get 20,000 of its warehouse and grocery store employees vaccinated. With more doses becoming available to Amazon worldwide, the retailer has also begun providing workers with on-site vaccination facilities. It is also offering a cash incentive of US$40 per shot, or up to $80 in total, to frontline staff who opt for offsite immunisation.

New recruits at Fulfilment Centres are also reportedly given a bonus of $100 on their first day if they can present their vaccination record. “Vaccination, in our view, is absolutely the only way out of the pandemic, both for us to get to normalcy and also for the country,” said Dr. Vin Gupta, Amazon’s chief medical officer who has been leading the company’s COVID response strategy.

Read more: Vaccinations: Will you monitor staff jabs?

Facebook

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg expressed support for the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination drive in the US, saying he is “confident” that inoculation may help curb the spread of the virus. However, Facebook execs are hesitant to make vaccination mandatory for staff returning to the office. The company also extended its support to the local community by transforming a section of its campus in Menlo Park, California into a vaccination hub for low-income residents.

Google

Google converted a number of its buildings, carparks, and other open spaces on campus into vaccination clinics. The internet company committed US$150m to raising awareness about the importance of vaccination, and has been collaborating with governments to expedite the process and make vaccines more accessible.

“We are doing everything we can to get our employees and our extended workforce vaccinated [along with their] dependents. [We are] very much encouraging employees to get vaccinated,” said Dr. Karen DeSalvo, chief health officer at Google.

The company hasn’t mandated immunisation among staff. “Right now we’re not in a place where we want to require that [in order for staff] to go back into the office,” Dr. DeSalvo told Bloomberg. “We’re just making sure that we’re doing everything we can to, as we say in Silicon Valley, reduce the friction.”

JPMorgan

JPMorgan Chase asked US-based employees to take the COVID-19 shot before returning to the office. The Wall Street bank is reportedly exploring the possibility of making immunisation mandatory. However, early reports suggest the company is facing resistance from staff members who refuse to share their vaccination status with their managers.

“We strongly urge all of our employees to be vaccinated because we think it protects you, your friends and family, your fellow employees, and the community at large,” a memo from JPMorgan’s operating committee read. “In the future, we may mandate that all employees receive a COVID-19 vaccination consistent with legal requirements and medical or religious accommodations.”

Goldman Sachs

Following a memo early this year, Goldman Sachs required staff members to disclose their vaccination status as part of their preparation to return to the office. “Registering your vaccination status allows us to plan for a safer return to the office for all of our people as we continue to abide by local public health measures,” the directive read. The investment bank urged staff to get immunised but recognised that “the choice to get vaccinated is a personal one.”

Over in London, employees who must report to the office starting from 19 July won’t need to get vaccinated but they will be required to wear masks inside the building to ensure a safe workplace, said Richard Gnodde, CEO of Goldman Sachs International. “The centre of gravity for our workforce is going to be in our buildings,” he said. “[We will] continue to manage our exit from this in a cautious and appropriate way to make sure that our people feel comfortable.”

Read more: Managers want penalties for staff refusing vaccine

Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley employees who wish to return to their New York City offices will first need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before heading back. Otherwise, they will be barred from entering the premises. The US bank also required employees to inform managers of their vaccination status by 1 July. Those who have yet to complete the immunisation process will reportedly continue to work offsite.

Last month, CEO James Gorman told employees he was keen to get them back into the office. “If you can go to a restaurant in New York City, you can come into the office, and we want you in the office,” he said at a virtual event he participated in from his corporate office. “By Labor Day, I’ll be very disappointed if people haven’t found their way into the office and then we’ll have a different kind of conversation.”

Unilever

Unilever CEO Alan Jope wants his global workforce to get inoculated but only when it’s their turn to receive the COVID-19 jab. “I don’t want any of my employees to be jumping the queue on frontline medical workers or vulnerable people,” he said.

The consumer goods company has been exploring options to donate hundreds of thousands of doses to workers in less developed countries. “Imagine in a country where we purchase 200,000 vaccine doses, we donate 100,000 to public efforts and use the rest for our employees and their families,” he said.

Read more: Your workers want better COVID vaccine policies

Starbucks

Coffee house chain Starbucks isn’t mandating vaccination but is encouraging partners to get immunised and “help mitigate the spread of COVID-19”. To support workers, Starbucks is giving staff up to four hours of paid time off for when they receive the dose. On top of that, the company is also offering up to four hours of PTO if staff experience vaccine-related side effects and miss a scheduled shift “within 48 hours of receiving each dose”.

McDonald’s

Similarly, McDonald’s will provide both corporate and restaurant employees with up to four hours of PTO when they get vaccinated. The fast-food chain said it has no plans to require immunisation among staff but that it is doing its best to “encourage vaccination and connect employees to trusted, third-party experts” who can guide them through the process.

American Airlines

US-based ground and cabin crew members of American Airlines who get the COVID-19 jab will receive an additional vacation day next year plus a $50 credit as part of the airline’s Nonstop Thanks recognition programme. “We still don’t know how quickly demand will return, but we know vaccines will be an important part of the recovery. That’s why we are fully engaged in the effort to make vaccination available to our team as quickly and widely as possible,” said CEO Doug Parker and President Robert Isom. “We strongly encourage all team members to get vaccinated whenever you have the opportunity to do so, and our goal is to make that as easy as possible for you.”

Read more: Vaccination incentives shouldn't be 'coercive'

Anthem

Health insurer Anthem is giving all fully-vaccinated employees a one-time credit towards their medical premiums. However, workers also have the option to donate the credit to the Anthem Cares Fund. “Anthem is committed to empowering our associates to live a healthy lifestyle, therefore it is important that we provide an incentive to those who receive the COVID-19 vaccination,” said Leah Stark, CHRO of Anthem.

Dollar General

US retail chain Dollar General offers frontline workers a four-hour PTO credit for receiving the COVID-19 shot. The company said it won’t ask for employees’ vaccination cards. Staff members will only have to tick a box indicating they’ve received a dose to qualify for the bonus.

CEO Todd Vasos said most hourly workers struggle to access services such as immunisation. The challenge of juggling multiple shifts and the lack of employer-sponsored health insurance often prevent low-income workers from putting their health first, he said.

Alliance Airlines

Alliance Airlines in Brisbane is keen to implement a mandatory immunisation policy for staff and may enforce disciplinary measures for those who refuse the jab. The airline said it would require all employees and contractors to be vaccinated against both the flu and COVID-19. Staff members who decline the vaccine will be subject to a risk assessment of their role. Those without a valid legal or medical reason for their refusal may face “appropriate disciplinary action”.

Australia’s aged-care and hotel quarantine workers

COVID-19 vaccination is set to become mandatory for all workers at aged-care residences. Employees must receive the vaccine by mid-September in order to remain in their role, according to Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Meanwhile, all workers at hotel quarantine facilities and their transportation services will also be required to take the COVID-19 shot.

DLGL Technologies

HR software firm DLGL Technologies will give employees who present their vaccination record a bonus of up to $2,500. The perk will be paid out in two tranches amounting to $1,250 per shot. “We want to do our share in the pursuit of a secure society for all, the easing of the stress on the health system,” said DLGL president Jacques Guénette. New hires are also entitled to the bonus.

OCBC Bank

OCBC Bank in Singapore launched a comprehensive employee care programme with perks lined up for those receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. A total of 10,000 workers stand to benefit from additional time off and the option to work from home while recovering from immunisation.

Employees are given the day off after receiving a dose; allowed to work from home for a week; and reimbursed for their transportation costs in going to the vaccination hub. Meanwhile, staff who develop side effects from the vaccine will receive two sick days on top of their existing medical leave credits.

Read more: Company gives employees financial incentive for COVID vaccination

Randstad Singapore and Malaysia

Global recruitment firm Randstad offers Singapore- and Malaysia-based employees two days of PTO aside from their paid medical leave. The firm also provides an educational webinar for staff to learn more about the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines. Local healthcare experts lead the webinar where they discuss the importance of getting inoculated and debunk common misconceptions.

Singapore Airlines

As part of a wider immunisation drive across communities, Singapore Airlines made staff vaccinations optional but “strongly encouraged” eligible team members to receive the vaccine. The move paralleled a mass campaign to inoculate more than 35,000 frontline aviation and maritime workers in the city-state. Fully-vaccinated workers will be subject to fewer tests in the future, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore said.

Emirates

Emirates became among the first few airlines in the world to operate a flight with fully vaccinated frontline teams. The flight from Dubai to Los Angeles on February 21st was supported by over 70 staff who had made the choice to get vaccinated – from check-in, to security, engineers, pilots as well as cabin crew.

Since launching the vaccination drive in mid-January, close to half of the group’s frontline employees, or 26,000 staffers have received both doses of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Sinopharm vaccines.

Hong Kong’s hospitality and construction workers

Hospitality and construction companies in Hong Kong are banding together to offer workers a variety of incentives, from freebies to cash bonuses, to encourage them to take the COVID-19 vaccine. Immunisation is still voluntary in Hong Kong.

Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung, an Executive Council member representing the Business and Professionals Alliance, is leading one of the initiatives, which includes handing out 500,000 plane tickets to vaccinated residents who wish to travel to Asian cities where the health crisis has eased.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels will reward any of its 1,500 staff members with a cash bonus of HK$4,000 (approx. US$500) if they are inoculated by August.

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