A big-footprint American retailer will pay employees to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
The Dollar General chain of stores will offer all 157,000 employees four hours worth of pay to get a Covid-19 vaccine, The Wall Street Journal reported. The chain is the first major retailer to announce compensation for employees who get vaccinated.
“We felt the right thing to do was to break down these barriers to vaccination,” Todd Vasos, Dollar General’s chief executive, told The Wall Street Journal. “We believe as the vaccine continues to gain momentum that we’ve got to get it to rural America.”
The company will not require employees show proof they got a vaccine to get the extra pay, per the Journal. Dollar General will also give employees paid time off if they have adverse reactions to the vaccine.
The US set a single-day record for most COVID-19 deaths on January 13, and the number of newly reported cases has surpassed 200,000 for the eighth day in a row. The country far outpaces every other country in reported total cases of Covid-19.
Few major companies there have announced plans on employee vaccination. Though US labor lawyers said employers could mandate all workers get Covid-19 vaccines in certain conditions, experts told Insider retailers will likely encourage, rather than require, vaccines.
US federal guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission protects workers who refuse the vaccine due to underlying medical conditions or religious beliefs, but allows employers to separate those who don’t get inoculated.
Low-wage, essential workers, like those at Dollar General, have faced higher risks of contracting Covid-19 on the job in the US, per Brookings. Many chains offered hazard pay for essential workers early in the pandemic, but have since cut the benefits.
A 2020 UBS report found Dollar General pays workers the least out of 25 major retailers, including Walmart, Target, and other dollar stores.
Dollar General enjoyed high sales last year as shoppers flocked to dollar stores to pick up cheap goods during the economic downturn. The retailer reported a same-store sales spike of 21.7% in May.
But dollar stores across the country saw a recent wave of violent crimes. CNN reported six Dollar General employees have died in store robberies since 2016.
One ex-Dollar General employee sued the company for $1 million after surviving multiple armed robberies in a San Antonio, Texas location, Insider’s Áine Cain reported.