A Winnipeg business owner is offering staff a $300 cash bonus as incentive to get the COVID-19 vaccine, and thinks other businesses should do the same.
But a partner with a human resources consulting firm says this type of initiative could compromise employees' privacy, or create division in the workplace.
Ash Modha, president and CEO of Mondetta Clothing, says he thinks the cash bonus offer for getting vaccinated both helps his staff stay healthy and safe, while also helping keep the community safe.
"I think that this is a way for us to show our staff that, you know, it's something that we can all do our part," he said.
"This is not about being controversial or religious or political or anything of that nature. This is just to create good health in our teams and make sure they're healthy and able to get back to work and in an office setting by the fall."
LISTEN | Ash Modha explains why he's giving $300 bonuses to his employees for getting vaccinated:
He says he thinks other businesses should offer similar incentives for employees to get COVID-19 vaccines because it shouldn't be only the responsibility of governments to encourage immunization.
"Governments can't do everything on their own. You know, we can blame governments, we can take pot shots at governments all day long, but we in the private sector and we as human beings and as members of the community at large can do our part," he said.
Contest for students
Assiniboine Community College in Brandon, Man., is taking a similar approach to encourage students to get their shot by holding a contest where in order to collect a prize, the winner needs to have been vaccinated.
Those who enter the draw could have their tuition fees paid for a year, or could win other prizes such as gift certificates to the campus bookstore.
But only those who win will have to show proof they've been vaccinated, said Mark Frison, president of Assiniboine Community College.
Frison said they've heard from many students who want to get back to in-person, hands-on classes, so encouraging them to get vaccinated is one way of getting that to happen sooner.
"I think they're beginning to see that the key to getting back to that more traditional experience is a high level of vaccine uptake in the population," he said.
The college doesn't plan on offering incentives to its employees to get vaccinated, but Frison said they have been encouraging employees to get their shot.
Privacy, fairness issues
Speaking generally, Lisa Cefali, head of executive search and strategic development for human resources consulting firm Legacy Bowes Group, said while there may be some benefits to it, offering incentives to employees to get vaccinated could create issues related to privacy if employers are asking people to declare whether they're vaccinated.
It also could create conflict in the workplace by creating a divide between which employees take up the offer, and which ones don't, she said.
Cerafi noted she hasn't seen any company's specific policy or proposal, and was not commenting on the initiatives of Assiniboine Community College or Mondetta.
"The issue comes up with, by offering an incentive to those who get a vaccine, are you then not treating those who don't want to get one unfairly?" she said.
"So if it was a gift card, so that gift card is not available to everyone because then they have to self-declare that they don't want to get the vaccine. So, yes, there could be benefits, but there's privacy issues on how you do that."
A better approach might be to simply encourage employees to get vaccinated by giving them the best information possible and time off to get their shot, she said.
"But ultimately, people have the right to choose and make their own decisions and go from there, much like then the employer also has the right to set up certain policies and procedures that are relevant and necessary for their workplace."