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Instacart, Trader Joe’s to pay employees who get COVID-19 vaccine

Consumer Alerts

WOODBRIDGE, NEW JERSEY – AUGUST 26: Clark resident Jen Valencia still works part time for Instacart at Wegman’s market on August 26, 2020 in Woodbridge, New Jersey. The pandemic has prompted a major spike in on-demand grocery shopping and delivery, making Instacart profitable for the first time since its founding in 2012. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story contained incorrect information. The headline previously read “shoppers” instead of “employees.” The story has been corrected.

(NEXSTAR) — As vaccinations continue across the U.S., some companies are offering financial incentives to encourage their workers to get the shots.

Grocery delivery platform Instacart will give workers who take time off to get a COVID-19 vaccine $25, the company announced Thursday.

Shift leads, in-store shoppers and full-service shoppers (who shop in-store and deliver groceries) will be eligible for the stipend.

The company said it would also provide free personal protective equipment to all shoppers in-need.

“Since the start of the pandemic, the health and safety of the entire Instacart community has been our top priority. With COVID-19 cases continuing to rise across the country, we’re taking proactive steps to advocate that government agencies recognize Instacart shoppers as critical essential workers who deserve early access to vaccines,” said Apoorva Mehta, Founder and CEO of Instacart.

“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.” 

The company has called on state and federal officials to classify its shoppers as “essential workers,” which could help Instacart employees get the COVID-19 vaccine early.

Grocery chain Trader Joe’s also announced Thursday that 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.

Not every company is offering incentives. Delivery app DoorDash, another big platform for gig workers, said it has asked the CDC and governors to prioritize delivery workers in vaccine distribution. But it doesn’t plan perks for workers who get vaccinated.

Target Corp. also plans no incentives, but said it will make the vaccine free and accessible to its 350,000 employees. Target said 1,700 of its stores have a CVS pharmacy on site that will offer the vaccine to staff when it’s available.

Albertsons, a grocery chain with 2,250 U.S. stores and 300,000 employees, also isn’t doling out financial incentives. Like DoorDash, it’s asking state and local authorities to make sure its workers get priority for the vaccine.

Many large companies have faced criticism over how they have treated their employees throughout the pandemic, from shoddy sick leave policies to poor working conditions inside factories and warehouses. Companies from meatpacking plants to Amazon have grappled with worker absences and outbreaks that have forced temporary shutdowns of their factories and warehouses. There is also a looming debate in Congress over whether employers should be exempt from legal liabilities related to coronavirus exposure as more recall their employees to offices and other work sites.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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