- Aldi plans to set up on-site vaccination clinics at its warehouses and offices in the U.S. as part of its efforts to encourage workers to get inoculated against COVID-19, the discount grocer announced Tuesday.
- Aldi said that it will cover vaccination costs and provide up to four hours of paid time off — two hours per dose of COVID-19 vaccine — to all hourly employees. Salaried employees will be offered “scheduling flexibility” in order to get vaccinated, according to the press release.
- In addition to the on-site clinics, Aldi said in the announcement that it will continue to look into ways to make the vaccine more accessible. As retailers, especially ones without pharmacies, look to ramp up efforts to offer COVID-19 vaccines to employees and customers, on-site clinics for workers could be one solution.
Aldi joins Dollar General, Instacart and Trader Joe’s in unveiling incentives to encourage workers to get inoculated against the virus as companies figure out the best ways to ensure workforce vaccinations with minimal disruption to their businesses.
Last month, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said that employers, with some exceptions, can require proof of employees getting a COVID-19 vaccine. So far, firms and retailers in the grocery industry that have announced their vaccination incentives have shied away from that option.
Dollar General said last week that it won’t require COVID-19 vaccinations, calling it a “personal choice” for workers. Aldi’s announcement said it's implementing compensation and on-site clinics for workers “who wish to receive the vaccine." A company representative confirmed it will not require its workers to get vaccinated.
It's unclear if store workers will be able to receive their vaccines at the company's warehouse and office clinics, and if they will be encouraged to do so. The company representative did not provide further details when asked about this possibility, noting final plans for the vaccine clinics are not yet in place.
As “frontline essential workers,” grocery store associates are included in the second round of vaccinations outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Final implementation is up to the states, however, and federal efforts to speed up vaccinations mean retailers and firms face more pressure to set their vaccine policies. Worker advocates like the United Food and Commercial Workers Union say grocery and gig workers are continuing to face health risks as a more contagious strain of the virus is spreading rapidly in the U.S.
Last week, president-elect Joe Biden laid out his plan to get more Americans vaccinated against COVID-19. This includes launching more vaccination sites, taking steps to create more vaccine supply and mobilizing additional personnel to aid in the effort. His administration has set a goal of providing 100 million vaccines during his first 100 days in office.
This story has been updated with information from Aldi.