EEOC Issues Guidance on Offering Incentives for Vaccinations

In guidance released on May 28, 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) addressed offering incentives for employees to be vaccinated. Because this guidance is a bit difficult to find on the website, we have reprinted the following guidance in its entirety:

Employer Incentives For COVID-19 Voluntary Vaccinations Under ADA and GINA

ADA:  Employer Incentives for Voluntary COVID-19 Vaccinations

K.16. Under the ADA, may an employer offer an incentive to employees to voluntarily provide documentation or other confirmation that they received a vaccination on their own from a pharmacy, public health department, or other health care provider in the community?  (5/28/21)

Yes. Requesting documentation or other confirmation showing that an employee received a COVID-19 vaccination in the community is not a disability-related inquiry covered by the ADA. Therefore, an employer may offer an incentive to employees to voluntarily provide documentation or other confirmation of a vaccination received in the community. As noted elsewhere, the employer is required to keep vaccination information confidential pursuant to the ADA.

K.17. Under the ADA, may an employer offer an incentive to employees for voluntarily receiving a vaccination administered by the employer or its agent?  (5/28/21)

Yes, if any incentive (which includes both rewards and penalties) is not so substantial as to be coercive. Because vaccinations require employees to answer pre-vaccination disability-related screening questions, a very large incentive could make employees feel pressured to disclose protected medical information. As explained in K.16., however, this incentive limitation does not apply if an employer offers an incentive to employees to voluntarily provide documentation or other confirmation that they received a COVID-19 vaccination on their own from a third-party provider that is not their employer or an agent of their employer.

GINA:  Employer Incentives for Voluntary COVID-19 Vaccinations

K.18. Under GINA, may an employer offer an incentive to employees to provide documentation or other confirmation that they or their family members received a vaccination from their own health care provider, such as a doctor, pharmacy, health agency, or another health care provider in the community? (5/28/21)

Yes. Under GINA, an employer may offer an incentive to employees to provide documentation or other confirmation from a third party not acting on the employer’s behalf, such as a pharmacy or health department, that employees or their family members have been vaccinated. If employers ask an employee to show documentation or other confirmation that the employee or a family member has been vaccinated, it is not an unlawful request for genetic information under GINA because the fact that someone received a vaccination is not information about the manifestation of a disease or disorder in a family member (known as family medical history under GINA), nor is it any other form of genetic information. Therefore, GINA’s restrictions on employers acquiring genetic information (including those prohibiting incentives in exchange for genetic information) do not apply.

K.19. Under GINA, may an employer offer an incentive to employees in exchange for the employee getting vaccinated by the employer or its agent? (5/28/21)

Yes. Under GINA, as long as an employer does not acquire genetic information while administering the vaccines, employers may offer incentives to employees for getting vaccinated. Because the pre-vaccination medical screening questions for the three COVID-19 vaccines now available do not inquire about genetic information, employers may offer incentives to their employees for getting vaccinated. See K.14 for more about GINA and pre-vaccination medical screening questions.

K.20. Under GINA, may an employer offer an incentive to an employee in return for an employee’s family member getting vaccinated by the employer or its agent? (5/28/21)

No. Under GINA’s Title II health and genetic services provision, an employer may not offer any incentives to an employee in exchange for a family member’s receipt of a vaccination from an employer or its agent.  Providing such an incentive to an employee because a family member was vaccinated by the employer or its agent would require the vaccinator to ask the family member the pre-vaccination medical screening questions, which include medical questions about the family member. Asking these medical questions would lead to the employer’s receipt of genetic information in the form of family medical history of the employee. The regulations implementing Title II of GINA prohibit employers from providing incentives in exchange for genetic information. Therefore, the employer may not offer incentives in exchange for the family member getting vaccinated. However, employers may still offer an employee’s family member the opportunity to be vaccinated by the employer or its agent, if they take certain steps to ensure GINA compliance.

K.21. Under GINA, may an employer offer an employee’s family member an opportunity to be vaccinated without offering the employee an incentive? (5/28/21)

Yes. GINA permits an employer to offer vaccinations to an employee’s family members if it takes certain steps to comply with GINA. Employers must not require employees to have their family members get vaccinated and must not penalize employees if their family members decide not to get vaccinated. Employers must also ensure that all medical information obtained from family members during the screening process is only used for the purpose of providing the vaccination, is kept confidential, and is not provided to any managers, supervisors, or others who make employment decisions for the employees. In addition, employers need to ensure that they obtain prior, knowing, voluntary, and written authorization from the family member before the family member is asked any questions about his or her medical conditions. If these requirements are met, GINA permits the collection of genetic information.

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