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Greenville Business Magazine

Companies Offer Vaccine Incentives

By Liv Osby

As coronavirus vaccination eligibility expands to an ever-growing group of people, many businesses are doing what they can to encourage their workers to get a shot.

Marriott International, for example, is offering four hours pay to employees at its U.S. and Canadian properties who get the vaccine. 

And some South Carolina companies are following suit.

BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina plans on offering the vaccine onsite for employees once supply improves, like it does flu shots during flu season, spokeswoman Patti Embry-Tautenhan said.

Meanwhile, the state’s largest insurer has expanded its leave policy to include paid time off for employees to get the Covid-19 vaccine and, with their manager’s approval, to volunteer at an approved vaccine administration site, she said. 

This includes two hours of PTO for each Covid-19 vaccine dose, up to four hours, and four hours a week of PTO to volunteer at a vaccine site, up to 40 hours, she said.

“Overall,” she said, “we are providing the most current information, and making it easier for employees to take the time to get vaccinated and to volunteer at a vaccine site.”

BlueCross also has a website that provides employees with information such as eligibility and the latest Covid updates from the state.

Michelin spokeswoman Megan Bagwell said the company is strongly encouraging its employees to consider getting vaccinated. Participation is voluntary, but the Greenville-based tire manufacturer is making it easier for them to do that.

“Since the beginning of the global health crisis, Michelin’s No. 1 priority has been the long-term health, safety and well-being of our employees, their families and the surrounding communities,” she said. “To support and thank our U.S. employees who choose to get the vaccine, we will provide either four hours of additional paid time off or four hours pay-in-lieu of time off, depending on site and business needs.”

Leslie Hayes, founder and president of The Hayes Approach in Greenville, said her employees are being given time off to get the vaccine but there are no other incentives. She also isn’t requiring vaccination.

“Most of my people are interested in getting the vaccine,” she said, noting there are eight people total in the company. “And if they need time off to go get a vaccine, they can just go get and get it.” 

The Hayes Approach provides HR services for nearly 40 small to midsize businesses around the country, including the Greenville Chamber of Commerce. 

And Hayes said her firm has been conducting focus groups with them about how to move forward amid the pandemic. None of them is mandating the vaccine, she said, though one health care facility is strongly urging its workers to be vaccinated and some say they are helping employees find a clinic.

“Most have had a personal experience with it (the virus),” she said. “And they are ready to get it (the vaccine.)”

Hartsville-based Sonoco scheduled a vaccination event for employees on March 13 in conjunction with Carolina Pines Regional Medical Center, according to spokesman Roger Schrum. And the response has been good, he said.

“We have employees signing up through the week,” he said. “We have approximately 400 hourly workers here and expect several hundred vaccinated through this weekend.”

No other incentives are being offered, he said.

Marriott said in a statement that although it’s not mandating vaccination, it is strongly encouraging it. So in addition to its pay incentive, it’s allowing flexible schedules to make appointments easier.

“Our goal for the Vaccination Care Program is to remove potential obstacles to getting vaccinated so our associates can put their health first and have peace of mind,” David Rodriguez, global chief human resources officer, said. 

“As vaccines become more widely available, this will create a safer environment for all associates,” he added, “and we believe that consumer confidence to travel again will increase significantly and help the rebound of the travel and tourism sector.”