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Biden to Introduce Tax Credit to Encourage Small Business Owners to Offer Paid Time Off for COVID-19 Vaccinations

  • President Joe Biden says tax credit will soon be available to small businesses and nonprofits to encourage them to offer paid time off for employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine
  • Businesses also encourage to offer promotions and other innovative strategies to encourage workers and customers to get vaccinated
  • Initiative comes as United States is set to meet an administration goal of 200 million doses

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that he will introduce a tax credit for small businesses and nonprofits to encourage them to offer paid time off to employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

The announcement as vaccinations in the United States are set to reach the 200 million benchmark, a goal set by Biden for his 100th day in office after doubling his initial target of 100 million. Biden said vaccinations help improve safety and productivity in the workplace and community, and that workers shouldn’t suffer lost wages when taking time off from their job to get a dose.

The credit will be directed at small businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 500 employers, encompassing nearly half of private sector employers. Biden said the credit covers 80 hours of paid sick time at $511 per day for paid sick leave provided between April 1 and Sept. 30, and intends to cover time employees take to get the vaccine as well as any time off needed to recover from the after-effects of a dose.

The initiative builds on a tax credit passed under the American Rescue Plan allowing smaller employers to claim up a tax credit of $17,110 for providing paid leave to workers for certain purposes. These include taking time off to recover from COVID-19, getting tested for the virus, showing symptoms and going to visit a doctor, getting vaccinated, spending time in quarantine or caring for someone in isolation, or providing care to a child whose school or child care provider has been closed due to COVID-19.

Guidance from the Internal Revenue Service says businesses can claim a credit for up to two weeks of paid sick leave, capped at $511 a day and $5,110 in aggregate, as well as 12 weeks of paid family leave at $200 a day and $12,000 in aggregate.

Biden also called on businesses to provide accurate and timely information on vaccinations to employees and customers, and to incentivize vaccinations through discounts, giveaways, and other rewards. In his remarks, he praised the Krogers grocery chain for offering $100 to employees who got a vaccine and a small Ohio salon that helped sign up more than 200 people to receive a vaccine after they came in for their appointment.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that employers be flexible and allow employees to take an hour or two out of their workday to get a vaccine. It also says businesses can be active in promoting vaccinations and hosting certain incentives such as competitions between departments to see who can get the highest rate of employees vaccinated.

Some legal resources have cautioned businesses about being too generous with their incentives, saying they could be accused of discriminatory behavior if the promotion bars employees who claim medical or religious exemptions from receiving a major award. Employers have also been reluctant to mandate vaccines as a condition for employees to return to the workplace, and the CDC cautions that employers should not require employees to share any medical information if they require workers to provide proof of vaccination.

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