Instacart, others push incentives to get workers vaccinated

AP – As vaccinations continue across the United States (US), some companies are offering financial incentives to encourage their workers to get the shots.

Instacart Inc, the grocery delivery service, announced on Thursday that it would provide a USD25 stipend for workers who get the COVID-19 vaccine. It joins others, including Trader Joe’s and Dollar General, which plan to pay workers extra if they get vaccinated.

“Our goal with the introduction of our new vaccine support stipend is to ensure that, when the time comes, Instacart shoppers don’t have to choose between earning income as an essential service provider or getting vaccinated,” Instacart CEO Apoorva Mehta said in a statement.

San Francisco-based Instacart has nearly doubled its mostly gig workforce to about 500,000 to meet a surge in demand for online grocery shopping since the pandemic erupted in the US last spring.

Grocery chain Trader Joe’s, which has more than 50,000 employees, said on Thursday it will give employees two hours of pay per dose for getting the vaccine. The Monrovia, California-based company said it will also shift around schedules to make sure employees have time to get vaccinated.

Dollar General said on Wednesday it will give employees the equivalent of four hours of pay if they get the vaccine. The Goodlettsville, Tennessee-based retailer said it employs 157,000 people.

A vaccine advisory panel at the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) voted late last month on recommendations for vaccine distribution. The panel said grocery workers — which would include Instacart and Dollar General’s employees — should be in the second group to receive shots after healthcare workers and nursing home residents.

It is up to each state to decide how and when to adopt the CDC’s recommendations. Some states have already opened eligibility to the second group, which also includes firefighters, police, teachers, corrections workers, postal employees and people 75 and older. There are around 50 million people in that group.

The Dollar General store is pictured in Luther, Oklahama. PHOTO: AP