Restaurants Offer Incentives to Encourage Worker Vaccinaton

A growing number of restaurants, from East Coast chain &pizza to Olive Garden owner Darden Restaurant Inc., is offering workers paid time off and other incentives to get the Covid-19 vaccine.

The pizza company is giving its more than 700 employees four hours of paid time off and subsidizing transport for the vaccine. Darden, which also owns the Capital Grille and Longhorn Steakhouse chains, said earlier Tuesday it was offering as much as four hours of pay for workers to get the vaccination.

The company incentives come as some U.S. states start the second phase, in which frontline essential workers such as those preparing foods can receive a vaccine. Others were giving workers a financial incentive, including meatpacker JBS’s offer of a $100 bonus for workers who get it.

In a statement, &pizza Chief Executive Officer Michael Lastoria said workers must “consider things like child-care, taking the time to go get vaccinated, and all the costs in-between. And those are precisely the barriers we wanted to remove.”

Darden will encourage its hourly workers to get vaccinated but won’t require them to do so, according to an email from CEO Gene Lee that was sent to employees on Tuesday. Darden will offer up to two hours of pay for each dose as incentive.

“We recognize getting vaccinated is a personal decision that you alone can make,” Lee wrote in the letter.

Dollar General Corp. was one of the first companies to announce a similar initiative for vaccination. Companies have stopped short of requiring that their workers get the vaccine, however.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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