Employers say they could dock the pay of employees who refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccine
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Employers have tried to get their employees to take the COVID-19 vaccine by giving them benefits including time off to get the shot, extra vacation days, and bonuses. Walmart, the country's largest private employer, has announced its employees that work in stores and warehouses are eligible for a $150 bonus as an incentive to be vaccinated.

McDonald's offers workers at its corporate headquarters up to four hours of time off to get vaccinated.

Kroger, the nation's largest supermarket chain, announced it will give a $100 bonus to employees who show proof of vaccination.

But instead of just incentivizing workers with positive rewards, a number of employees may start leveling financial penalties against those who refuse to get vaccinated.

As people return to their workplaces during the Delta variant spike, unvaccinated employees are increasingly becoming a liability. They open up workplaces to outbreaks and drive up healthcare costs for the company, insurers, and employees.

"Getting hospitalized with Covid-19 in the United States typically generates huge bills," Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal and Stanford University's Glenn Kramon wrote in The New York Times. Kramon said that a 14-day hospitalization for an uninsured person in the Miami area can result in a $104,000 bill.

Now, companies are considering more drastic measures to combat the costs of the unvaccinated by docking their pay.

"Employers have tried encouraging employees to get vaccinated through offering incentives like paid time off and cash, but with the Delta variant driving up infections and hospitalizations throughout the country – at the same time that vaccination rates have stalled – we have received inquiries from at least 20 employers over the past few weeks who are giving consideration to adding health coverage surcharges for the unvaccinated as a way to drive up vaccination rates in their workforce," said Wade Symons, Mercer's regulatory resources group leader.

Mercer is one of the world's largest employee benefits consultants.

Mercer hasn't disclosed which companies are considering docking workers' pay but said that the average surcharge will be somewhere between $20 to $50 a month. The hope is that the surcharge will help offset the costs associated with unvaccinated workers and will encourage them to get the shot to avoid the penalty.

Docking an employee's pay stops short of the more drastic tactics being used at Walmart, Google, Tyson Foods, and United Airlines. They have all imposed vaccine mandates on some or all of their employees. Those who still refuse inoculation can be terminated.

Health insurance companies are also considering a financial penalty for those who refuse to get vaccinated. Given the fact that 97% of all COVID-19 hospitalizations are now unvaccinated people, insurers want to encourage people to get the jab to avoid unnecessary six-figure payouts. Such a policy would also benefit the vaccinated who won't have to pay for rising premiums caused by the unvaccinated.

Even though there has been a recent uptick in people getting vaccinated due to the spread of the Delta variant, the U.S. is still far from reaching herd immunity. Employers have exhausted most of the carrots to get people to get the shot and now's the time for the sticks. Things are only going to get more difficult for those who refuse the shot.

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Macy's and Girls Inc. believe that all girls deserve to be safe, supported, and valued. However, racial disparities continue to exist for young people when it comes to education levels, employment, and opportunities for growth. Add to that the gender divide, and it's clear to see why it's important for girls of color to have access to mentors who can equip them with the tools needed to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers.

Anissa Rivera is one of those mentors. Rivera is a recent Program Manager at the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc., a nonprofit focusing on the holistic development of girls ages 5-18. The goal of the organization is to provide a safe space for girls to develop long-lasting mentoring relationships and build the skills, knowledge, and attitudes to thrive now and as adults.

Rivera spent years of her career working within the themes of self and community empowerment with young people — encouraging them to tap into their full potential. Her passion for youth development and female empowerment eventually led her to Girls Inc., where she served as an agent of positive change helping to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.

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Inspiring young women from all backgrounds is why Macy's has continued to partner with Girls Inc. for the second year in a row. The partnership will support mentoring programming that offers girls career readiness, college preparation, financial literacy, and more. Last year, Macy's raised over $1.3M for Girls Inc. in support of this program along with their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programming for more than 26,000 girls. Studies show that girls who participated are more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, score higher on standardized math tests, and be more equipped for college and campus life.

Thanks to mentors like Rivera, girls across the country have the tools they need to excel in school and the confidence to change the world. With your help, we can give even more girls the opportunity to rise up. Throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases or donate online to support Girls Inc. at Macys.com/MacysGives.

Who runs the world? Girls!

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Over the past six years, it feels like race relations have been on the decline in the U.S. We've lived through Donald Trump's appeals to America's racist underbelly. The nation has endured countless murders of unarmed Black people by police. We've also been bombarded with viral videos of people calling the police on people of color for simply going about their daily lives.

Earlier this year there was a series of incidents in which Asian-Americans were the targets of racist attacks inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Given all that we've seen in the past half-decade, it makes sense for many to believe that race relations in the U.S. are on the decline.

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Photo courtesy of Macy's

Did you know that girls who are encouraged to discover and develop their strengths tend to be more likely to achieve their goals? It's true. The question, however, is how to encourage girls to develop self-confidence and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.

The answer lies in Girls Inc., a national nonprofit serving girls ages 5-18 in more than 350 cities across North America. Since first forming in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War, they've been on a mission to inspire girls to kick butt and step into leadership roles — today and in the future.

This is why Macy's has committed to partnering with Girls Inc. and making it easy to support their mission. In a national campaign running throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases to the nearest dollar or donate online to support Girls Inc. and empower girls throughout the country.

Kaylin St. Victor, a senior at Brentwood High School in New York, is one of those girls. She became involved in the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc. when she was in 9th grade, quickly becoming a role model for her peers.

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Within her first year in the organization, she bravely took on speaking opportunities and participated in several summer programs focused on advocacy, leadership, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). "The women that I met each have a story that inspires me to become a better person than I was yesterday," said St. Victor. She credits her time at Girls Inc. with making her stronger and more comfortable in her own skin — confidence that directly translates to high achievement in education and the workforce.

In 2020, Macy's helped raise $1.3 million in support of their STEM and college and career readiness programming for more than 26,000 girls. In fact, according to a recent study, Girls Inc. girls are significantly more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, to be interested in STEM careers, and to perform better on standardized math tests.

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