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Telstra offers A$200 carrot to boost employee vaccinations

Governments have been taking varying approaches to encouraging more unwilling sections of the population to get a COVID-19 vaccination.

In France, for example, although the newly introduced pass sanitaire has sparked protests for five weekends running, the threat of being unable to sit down in a brasserie for an early morning café au lait or an afternoon apéritif unless you have been fully jabbed prompted a surge in vaccinations.

It seems that some telcos and other technology groups, keen to get workforces back into the office but worried about the spread of new COVID-19 variants, have also been encouraging employees to get their jabs.

Stick to it: While vaccination means a safer work environment and open offices, some people still need a little persuasion.  (Source: Steven Cornfield on Unsplash)
Stick to it: While vaccination means a safer work environment and open offices, some people still need a little persuasion.
(Source: Steven Cornfield on Unsplash)

In Australia, for example, Telstra has adopted a carrot rather than a stick approach, reportedly offering the equivalent of A$200 (US$145) to any employee who is fully vaccinated. Given that Telstra has around 25,000 employees, the monetary value of this offer would be a pretty hefty A$5 million (US$3.6 million).

According to reports, Telstra CEO Andy Penn sent an email round this week saying that the telco had "decided to reward our employees, starting in Australia, who get fully vaccinated with 200 Appreciate points (the equivalent of A$200), so you in turn can reward yourself for taking this step."

In the Philippines, Smart Communications is going further still, offering the "Bakuna Benefits" program with perks such as discounts and free offers from dining establishments for locals who have received their COVID-19 shots.

And the stick

Other companies are said to be taking other, more stringent measures. The Seattle Times reported that Microsoft will require proof of vaccination for all employees, vendors and visitors to its US offices starting in September, following similar actions recently taken by Google and Facebook.

AT&T is also said to require COVID-19 vaccinations, while rivals T-Mobile US and Verizon are keeping it optional.


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TPG Telecom in Australia has been offering COVID-19 vaccination leave to all employees since early July.

In Germany, Deutsche Telekom IoT and ISS Facility Services, Telekom's building services provider, redeployed intelligent building management solutions to monitor refrigerated vaccines. The German telco pointedly said that Telekom employees "can get the important shot needed to combat the pandemic at 87 vaccination centers across Germany."

Overall, it seems likely that organizations, if they take any action at all to encourage vaccination take-up, will opt for gentle persuasion, incentives or hard cash, rather than coercion.

Indeed, mandated vaccination programs could present a legal minefield, and there could be repercussions for employee relations, too.

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— Anne Morris, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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