The White House is trying to juice America's vaccination rate.
On Wednesday, the Biden administration highlighted a paid-leave provision in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, which was passed on March 11. The IRS, also on Wednesday, codified the tax credit, which broadly offsets the cost for employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide full pay for any time their employees need to get a Covid-19 vaccination or recover from that vaccination.
In the briefing, the Biden administration urged businesses to act. "Now is the time to step up our efforts to reach every working-age adult in America," he said.
The tax credit, worth up to $511 per day of paid sick leave, will be available between April 1 and September 30, 2021, for employees to receive Covid-19 vaccines or recover from shot side effects. Employers can receive tax credits for up to 10 days worth of sick leave per employee. Given that most people don't have severe side effects that last more than a day or so, this should cover all time off needed for vaccination.
Another tool to fight Covid-19
Businesses can strongly influence employees to receive their Covid-19 vaccine, and this makes it financially easier for small businesses to do so. New York is the only state to require employers to give paid time off for employees to receive the vaccine (up to four hours per injection), but it's certainly a best practice for every business. Now, with the tax benefits, small businesses don't have a good excuse for not providing PTO for their employees.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has promised guidance on other benefits that you can provide your employees, but they haven't followed through yet. Right now, the guidance is just "de minimis," but doesn't define what that means. While businesses wait for information on how they can encourage employees, this tax credit provides a great benefit--and one that employees will really appreciate.
Think about your customers as well
While business owners focus on their own employees, they are also right to be concerned about their customers. The White House also encourages businesses to take part in the "We Can Do This" campaign. This can involve "discounts for vaccinated individuals, product giveaways or brand rewards, messaging in-store, point-of-purchase promotions, direct outreach to customers, or public service announcements (PSAs) about the importance of vaccinations."
Everyone will be better off if we can reduce Covid-19 transmission, and these two new programs can help businesses help their communities--and financially benefit.