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To Demand or Reward

With supplies quickly becoming readily available, should dealers require or incentivize employees for receiving the Covid-19 vaccine?

“We need to get to herd impunity” say the health experts.

“Any time an employee is out with Covid, we fall behind getting things done on time,” say marine dealers.

But can a dealer require vaccinations? How about incentives for inoculated staff?

The short answer is yes: An employer can require a vaccination if any staff member wants to continue working there. That said, there are also some exceptions for concerns relating to any disability and for religious beliefs that prohibit vaccinations. So, it might come down to dealers simply encouraging their team members to get immunized.

To be clear, demanding vaccination by itself does not violate any provisions in the Americans with Disabilities Act. Essentially, that law specifically prohibits employers from conducting some types of medical examinations. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission confirmed that a Covid-19 vaccination requirement, “if administered to an employee by an employer for protection against contracting Covid-19, the employer is not seeking information about an individual’s impairments or current health status and, therefore, it is not a medical examination.”

It’s also notable that employment in the United States is generally ‘at will,’ which means that a dealer can set its working conditions. And legal experts agree an employer can set health, safety and performance standards in the business.

But to paraphrase Shakespeare, “to demand or not to demand, that is the question?”

First, it’s a hands-down good position that being vaccinated protects coworkers and, equally important, protects the customers. Second, why not have a little fun by creating some incentives for your team to join the herd? Here are some examples in the news:

As vaccine supplies are rapidly becoming available, the doors are opening for everyone faster than expected. In Ohio, as one example, those 16 and older will be able to get vaccinated starting next Monday. While Florida initially rolled out vaccines to the elderly and first responders, the age levels to get shots are now rapidly being lowered. Plus, President Biden says there should be enough doses to vaccinate all adult Americans by the end of May.

Krispy Kreme may have been the first to grab national headlines with its offer of a free glazed donut to everyone showing a vaccine record card between now and the end of the year. What a great promotion, albeit criticized by some, and customers can get their free donut anytime, any day, even every day! And, since many people aren’t yet eligible to get vaccinated, the long-term promotion will give all people the deal.

In Cleveland, as local theaters reopen, they are now offering free popcorn to any patrons showing their current vaccination card, while the Market Garden Brewery restaurant is promoting 10¢ beers to customers bringing their completed vaccine certificate.

Even the NFL is getting into the vaccine incentive game. When the 86th annual NFL Draft is conducted in 3 Cleveland locations — First Energy Stadium, the iconic Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the adjacent Great Lakes Science Center — selected vaccinated fans will be able to view the action in an exclusive area the NFL will call the “Inner Circle.” Fans will be picked by of each of the 32 NFL clubs to serve as that team’s draft ambassadors.

Notably, the main stage of the NFL draft will be set against the backdrop of Lake Erie and serve as the central hub of this year's festivities. There, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will make the pick announcements and greet top selections once their names are called.

It’s part of the NFL’s desire to use the much-viewed draft, slated for April 29-May 1, as part of efforts by all the clubs to promote the importance of getting the Covid-19 vaccine.

Bottom line: For all marine dealers, coming up with some fun incentives for all employees to get vaccinated as soon as it’s available in your location is the smart play for all concerned. Use a little imagination and get it done on a fun note. 

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