Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Day 95° Partly Cloudy
News >  Business

Biden to push employers to provide paid time off for vaccine shots, recovery

April 21, 2021 Updated Wed., April 21, 2021 at 9:55 a.m.

In this March 11, 2021, photo, President Joe Biden speaks about the COVID-19 pandemic. Biden on Wednesday plans to press businesses and nonprofits to give employees paid time off to receive and recover from covid-19 vaccinations.  (Associated Press)
In this March 11, 2021, photo, President Joe Biden speaks about the COVID-19 pandemic. Biden on Wednesday plans to press businesses and nonprofits to give employees paid time off to receive and recover from covid-19 vaccinations. (Associated Press)
By Sean Sullivan and Isaac Stanley-Becker Washington Post

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Wednesday plans to press businesses and nonprofits to give employees paid time off to receive and recover from covid-19 vaccinations, and he will pledge to help underwrite some of those costs, according to White House officials.

The move is designed to spur millions of unvaccinated people to get immunized.

The new initiative sends one of the strongest signals yet that vaccine demand is emerging as a bigger challenge than supply, a shift from months of long waiting lists and limited opportunities for Americans to get vaccinated. Biden also plans to announce Wednesday that the United States will surpass 200 million vaccination shots this week, the White House officials said, a target he had set out to meet by the end of April.

Biden’s pitch comes amid signs of hope and concern in the nationwide effort to vaccinate people as quickly as possible.

After weeks of steady increases in vaccination, the average daily number of reported shots in arms slowed significantly over the past week, with an 11 percent drop in daily shots administered nationally, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than 40 percent of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, and many states have recently picked up the pace of getting shots into arms.

At the same time, most Americans who haven’t been immunized say they’re unlikely to get the shots, a recent poll showed.

Meanwhile, a pause in the use of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine has complicated efforts to swiftly administer shots.

In an early afternoon speech at the White House, Biden plans to call on all companies to provide employees with paid time off to get shots and to rest if they feel unwell afterward.

The president plans to tout a tax credit that arises from his $1.9 trillion pandemic relief law, which will reimburse businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 500 employees for up to $511 per day of paid vaccination leave offered between April 1 and Sept. 30, to a maximum of 10 work days.

At least 133 million people have received one or both doses of the vaccine in the United States, according to Washington Post data. More than 86 million people are fully vaccinated, the data show.

The new tax credit is part of the government’s quest to buttress efforts in the private sector aimed at encouraging vaccination, especially as supply of the shots catches up with demand and issues of access and hesitancy come to the fore.Large employers from American Airlines to Target have unveiled incentives for employees to get vaccinated, from an extra day off next year to free rides to vaccination sites.

The success of these initiatives could help determine how businesses approach requiring the vaccine for their employees - a vexed political debate that the administration has sought to leave to the private sector.

Short of mandates, however, Biden administration officials said they had examined research showing employers have outsize influence in reaching the remaining unvaccinated population.

The tax credit, they said, would provide the financial support necessary to allow small businesses to make vaccination convenient for their employees.

The approach is wise, experts said, because some of the workers most at risk of coronavirus exposure may be reluctant to get vaccinated if it means sacrificing limited time off.

“I think it’s a very smart move,” said Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, a professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law. An even more immediate way to support small businesses in guaranteeing paid time off, she said, would be to provide direct payments to employers who show that they’re providing this benefit.

As Biden approaches his 100th day in office, he is eager to highlight the progress he has made in combating the pandemic.

The president has made fighting the novel coronavirus the dominant focus of the early part of his presidency.

He campaigned aggressively on the issue and signed the sweeping covid-19 relief bill into law this year.

Biden pledged in a news conference in late March that the U.S. would administer 200 million coronavirus vaccine shots by the end of April - doubling a prior goal of 100 million shots in his first 100 days in office.

The president will deliver his Wednesday address just days after everyone 16 and older became eligible for vaccination, a dynamic Biden promoted this week in a video.

“We have enough of it, you need to be protected, and you need in turn to protect your neighbors and your family. So please, get the vaccine,” Biden says in the video.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox

Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.