Many in construction leadership roles now wonder whether they should incentivize vaccination for their employees who are hesitant to receive the vaccine. This is particularly important given recent research indicating that those in construction careers are less likely to get the vaccine voluntarily.
Many Construction Workers Are Hesitant About Vaccination
One of the most recent reports indicates that construction workers have among the lowest rate of people saying that they would get the COVID vaccine if they could. To put it in perspective, only 53% of those in construction said they would likely get the vaccine. Compare that to 77% for those in higher education. The only industries with lower rates include transportation, food and beverage, and retail.
You Can Require Hesitant Employees to Vaccinate
It is important to note that you technically don’t need to incentivize vaccinations. You could require it and be within your legal rights, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Despite the ruling, even the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission suggested that employers only strongly suggest the vaccine instead of requiring it. This suggestion comes from the expected pushback from those with construction careers.
Currently, it does not seem that most people in good construction leadership roles will require the vaccine. This can make it hard for those who require vaccination to maintain employees, especially with the current labor shortage and challenges facing construction recruiters.
Companies Must Decide Whether to Incentivize Vaccination
With few construction companies deciding to require vaccination, the question becomes whether you should incentivize it. Having more vaccinated workers is in the best interests of everyone’s safety. So far, most construction companies choose to be “soft but firm.” For example, they may say they “expect” workers to get the vaccine.
To make the matter more complicated, you also have to ensure that any incentives you offer to hesitant employees are within the law. It cannot violate HIPPA or EEOC regulations. Construction leadership and execs wrote to the EEOC to ask for guidance on legally-allowed incentives.
The Current Suggestion
Until the EEOC issues guidance on what incentives you can legally offer, there is one option that is definitely safe. The most important one would be to let employees get the vaccine during work and pay them for a set number of hours. You could also offer employees the ability to use paid sick leave if they feel unwell after the shot. Some companies have even gone above-and-beyond. These companies will give a day or two off (with pay) following employee vaccination.
If you have the resources available, you could even host a vaccine clinic. That would highly incentivize employees to get the vaccine as they would not have to travel, take time off work, or pay anything.
The Argument Against Incentives
In addition to the legal gray area regarding incentivizing vaccines, some construction companies don’t want to provide incentives. They feel that whether to vaccinate is a personal decision and is up to each employee. Most companies with this view cite the liabilities of incentives and the reputation for lawsuits in the United States.
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