Dollar General is offering additional pay to employees who opt to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Today, the Goodlettsville, Tenn.-based company announced that it would provide “frontline” hourly workers with a one-time payment equivalent to four hours of their regular pay following their inoculation. It said it would also provide salaried team members with “additional store labor hours” to accommodate their time away from the store. It becomes the first major nationwide chain to announce that it would compensate employees for getting vaccinated.
“We want to be on the forefront of facilitating our employees’ ability to receive the COVID-19 vaccine if they so choose — and we encourage all of our team to receive the vaccine when it’s available to them,” Dollar General said in a statement. “We do not want our employees to have to choose between receiving a vaccine or coming to work.”
The retailer acknowledged that many hourly workers face a number of hurdles to getting vaccinated, including factoring in travel time, gas mileage and child-care needs. It shared that it was also working to make similar accommodations for its distribution and transportation teams.
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“We understand the decision to receive the COVID-19 vaccination is a personal choice, and although we are encouraging employees to take it, we are not requiring them to do so,” it added.
Even as government-mandated lockdowns forced the closures of stores from coast to coast, Dollar General has remained open to the public due to its status as an essential retailer. It operates nearly 17,000 stores across 46 states and employs more than 150,000 people. It does not have an on-site pharmacies at its locations — unlike big-box chains such as Walmart Inc., which announced in mid-December that it would set up vaccination stations at 5,000 of its namesake and Sam’s Club outposts.
Beyond the vaccination efforts, Dollar General said that it would continue to take safety precautions, including requiring face masks or coverings, enforcing social distancing and encouraging employees to practice good hygiene with frequent hand-washing and the use of sanitizers. It also distributed up to $173 million in “employee appreciation bonuses” last year and made a $5.25 million donation to its Dollar General Employee Assistance Foundation to help support financially struggling team members amid the pandemic.