Trader Joe’s Says They Will Pay Their Employees to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine

updated Feb 24, 2021
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At the beginning of the pandemic, grocery store workers saw their job suddenly transform into something infinitely more dangerous than many ever expected. They’ve spent months as essential workers, working in public-facing roles while so many other people had the luxury of staying safe at home. They’ve faced not only exposure to the disease, but also shoppers who’ve been panicked and upset with empty shelves. Now, as the vaccine becomes available to a growing group of people, many states have added grocery store workers to their first phases eligible to receive it. But the next hurdle is making sure those workers actually get it — and some grocers, reports USA Today, including Trader Joe’s, Instacart, and Dollar General, have taken the extra step to make that an easy choice for their workers. 

Dollar General, which operates in almost every state and has nearly 17,000 stores, was the first to announce a payment policy, offering employees the equivalent of four hours of pay for getting vaccinated against COVID-19. “We do not want our employees to have to choose between receiving a vaccine or coming to work,” the company told USA Today. The money is intended to ensure employees don’t turn it down because of travel, childcare, or other related expenses. With minimum wage at $7.25 an hour, that means it is paying people at least $29. 

On Thursday, two more companies announced similar plans, with Trader Joe’s committing to two hours of pay for employees getting the vaccine, as well as flexibility with regard to shift scheduling to make sure they have the time. Instacart, whose delivery services have grown exponentially during the pandemic as people try to avoid grocery stores all together, announced that it would provide its 500,000 shoppers and delivery workers a $25 vaccine support stipend so that they prioritize getting it. Meanwhile, Albertson’s, the country’s second-largest grocery chain, has announced that it will not be offering similar monetary support for vaccination.