Chobani offering workers paid time off to get COVID-19 vaccine

Food company Chobani says it will offer its workers paid time off to get vaccinated for COVID-19, an early indication of a strategy some employers may take to encourage workers to get inoculated.

The yogurt maker, which has roughly 2,200 U.S. workers, says it will cover up to six hours of time for Chobani employees to get vaccinated–three hours for each of the two COVID-19 vaccine doses. It also is looking into hosting on-site vaccination clinics as soon as food processing workers become eligible, the company says.

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“It’s simple, fair and the right thing to do,” Peter McGuinness, president and COO of Chobani, said in a LinkedIn statement. “Our plant employees have been on the frontlines of putting food on America’s kitchen tables 24/7 during this pandemic. They’re the heart of our company and we’ll do whatever we can to protect them.”

It’s one of the first announcements from a major employer on how they are encouraging employees to get vaccinated in the midst of the raging pandemic. Dollar General just announced it is offering workers an extra four hours of pay for getting the vaccine.

Related: HR’s next big job: Convincing employees to get COVID vaccines

While many employers mull how they will incentivize and urge their workers to get vaccinated, other employers are deciding whether they will mandate COVID-19 vaccination for their employees.

Related: Employers can legally require COVID vaccines–but will they?

Overall, experts expect the majority of employers to encourage workers to get vaccinated against coronavirus. A new survey of employers conducted by the Midwest Business Group on Health finds that 71% of employers plan to provide employees with education about COVID-19 vaccines, while 56% plan to promote the vaccine to their workers.

“Employers are putting their COVID-19 vaccine plans in place now and know that education is key, especially for those focused on getting and keeping their people at a physical worksite,” says Cheryl Larson, MBGH president and CEO.

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Kathryn Mayer
Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s former benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver.