NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – As COVID-19 vaccinations continue in Texas and across the U.S., some companies are offering financial incentives to encourage their workers to get the shots.

Grocery chain Trader Joe’s, which has some nine stores across the Metroplex and 50,000 employees nationwide, said Thursday it will give its employees two hours of pay per dose for getting the vaccine. The California-based company said it will also shift around schedules to make sure employees have time to get vaccinated.

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Dollar General said Wednesday it will give employees the equivalent of four hours of pay if they get the vaccine. Texas has more Dollar General Stores than any state in the country — with more than 1,500 across the state and 157,000 American employees.

A vaccine advisory panel at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control voted late last month on recommendations for vaccine distribution. The panel said grocery workers — which would include Dollar General employees — should be in the second group to receive shots after health care workers and nursing home residents.

It is up to each state to decide how and when to adopt the CDC’s recommendations. Some states have already opened eligibility to the second group, which also includes firefighters, police, teachers, corrections workers, postal employees and people 75 and older. There are around 50 million people in that group.

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Companies can mandate that workers get COVID-19 vaccines as a requirement for employment, although they must make accommodations for medical or religious reasons, according to guidance from the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

However, most companies are reluctant to impose such mandates, said Sharon Perley Masling, a partner at the law firm Morgan Lewis who has been advising clients on workplace issues surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. The emergency nature of the vaccine’s FDA approval makes it impractical for many companies to require it, given that the shots are not available to most of the population, she said.

Still, Masling said the companies she works with are taking various steps to strongly encourage their workers to get vaccinated, including internal public relations campaigns showing top executives who are eligible getting the shots. Other incentives include free child care, paid time off and freebies such as pizza delivery and other gifts, she said.

“It’s good for employees, it’s good for their communities and it’s good for ensuring the continuation of business operations,” Masling said.

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