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24 May 20212 minute read

Can employers grant employees a one-off results-based bonus to incentivize them to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

The Belgian Federal Public Service Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue (FPS) is of the opinion that it would, in principle, not be possible to grant a one-off results-based bonus to incentivize employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine for the following reasons:

  1. There is no legal obligation in Belgium to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Indeed, for the time being, the COVID-19 vaccine is not being mandated by the Belgian government and it is entirely voluntary. According to the FPS, making a bonus dependent on reaching a certain vaccination percentage among staff would go against the personal freedom of the employees.
  2. An employer is in principle not allowed to record and process health data of its employees. As a result, and taking into account the fact that a one-off results-based bonus can only include objectives that are objectively measurable and verifiable, according to the FPS, it would not be practically possible to verify whether the objective would have been achieved.
  3. Lastly, the FPS states that the purpose of the one-off results-based bonus system is aimed at increasing employees’ motivation by involving them in the achievement of collective results of the company. Any collective bonus based on the vaccination percentage of the employee would not correspond to this purpose as it doesn’t involve the collective results of the company (eg a reduction in customer complaints).

Nevertheless, if there was a prevention plan applicable within the company, it would in principle be possible to grant a one-off results-based bonus to the employees if the objective was to reduce the number of days of absence due to work accidents or illness.

If an employer implemented a one-off results-based bonus aimed at reducing the number of days of absence, eg among others (and thus not limited to) the vaccination of employees with the COVID-19 vaccine, this could be a way to incentivize employees to get vaccinated. Of course, whether or not this could be achieved depends on a number of factors, including how the bonus plan is drafted.