Now that vaccines for COVID - 19 are becoming available to more employees in Michigan, some employers are encouraging their employees to get vaccinated. Very few are requiring employees to get the vaccine. Some are offering incentives, such as paid time off, gift cards, or extra pay. I was asked about this trend by a WZZM 13 On Your Side reporter and the segment was aired on February 10. Here is the clip.
There is nothing illegal about offering this kind of incentive so long as the employee is free to turn it down. Requiring a vaccine is another matter. If an employee has a legitimate religious reason for refusing the vaccine it may violate religious discrimination rules. Asking an employee about why he is refusing the vaccine could violate the Medical Examination provisions of the Americans' with Disabilities Act. And because the vaccine was approved in a fast-tracked emergency authorization by the CDC, employers appear to be using the carrot instead of the stick to get their employees vaccinated. More information is available in the EEOC guidance on this topic.