Though the coronavirus vaccine rollout has been somewhat slow, essential workers are being pushed to the front of the line, and understandably so. After all, without essential workers showing up to their jobs every day, it would be impossible for the public to maintain access to food, medication, and other household essentials.
Some employers, however, are recognizing that getting a vaccine isn't as easy as one might think. For workers who are paid by the hour, getting vaccinated could mean losing out on much-needed wages. Thankfully, Dollar General Corp. (NYSE: DG) is stepping up by offering workers four hours of pay to get a vaccine. The retailer, which employs 157,000 people, was among the first large U.S. employers to announce that it would compensate staff who make an effort to get vaccinated. And other companies are already following suit.
Jumping on the vaccine bandwagon
Keeping essential workers safe helps keep stores running -- and that, in turn, helps keep revenue steady. But many essential workers can't afford to take time off to get a vaccine, and may face other issues, like a lack of childcare, that makes it more difficult.
Thankfully, Dollar General is not only stepping up, but seems to be sparking a trend.
Recently, grocery store chain Aldi said it will give hourly workers two hours of pay for each vaccine dose they receive for a total of four hours of pay. Aldi will also cover costs associated with vaccine administration for its employees.
Trader Joe's, meanwhile, will give workers two hours of regular pay per dose for taking the time to get vaccinated. And starting on February 1, Instacart will offer a vaccine support stipend of $25 for in-store employees and independent contractors who get vaccinated.
Other businesses should follow suit
Vaccinating the public is being hailed as the most effective means of bringing the pandemic to a close. To this end, incentivizing workers to get vaccinated is a tactic more businesses should employ, because the sooner it becomes safer to go out in public, the sooner the economy can start to recover and fewer businesses will need to shut down.
2020 was a miserable year in that regard, with dozens of well-known retailers filing for bankruptcy and closing stores on a permanent basis, battering malls and shopping centers. Office buildings have taken a beating, too, and they've dragged down a number of real estate investment trusts (REITs) that derive revenue from them. In fact, the pandemic has already had a profound impact on real estate investing on a whole, and getting back to normal is really the only way to truly stop the bleeding.
Health officials have stated that there should be enough coronavirus vaccine doses available so that any American who wants one can receive one by summertime. But for now, vaccinating essential workers is an important start. The fact that some companies are stepping up to make that possible is a positive thing, and it's a trend that will hopefully continue as more vaccine supply becomes available.