Vaccine Incentives, Disincentives and the Walk-Out That Wasn’t

Before the September vaccine mandate announcement by President Biden, employers explored creative ways to incentivize vaccination, with varying levels of success. For example, some employers provided financial incentives to employees—in the case of The Brass Tap, even raising its initial wage offer.

Other businesses disincentivized employees from remaining unvaccinated. For instance, some employers (including Delta Airlines) have implemented health plan surcharges for unvaccinated employees. In the past, such surcharges were most notably implemented in the context of smokers vs. nonsmokers. For many unvaccinated employees, the “threat” of strict and frequent COVID testing changed minds.

One thing we may conclude is that the threat of employees quitting over the issue has not borne out. Per Zeynep Tufekci: “After United Airlines mandated vaccines, there were only 232 holdouts among 67,000 employees. Among about 10,000 employees in state-operated health care facilities in North Carolina, only 16 were fired for noncompliance.”

Business Takeaway: Individuals have a variety of reasons for not wanting to be vaccinated, and  bona fide medical and religious exemptions exist. However, even if the now-pending OSHA rule is implemented and enforced, businesses have significant agency, and a variety of options, when it comes to employee vaccination. Next up, requiring or encouraging booster shots. Contact Mark at if you have questions regarding vaccine mandates or other COVID protocols and policies.