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Coca-Cola is giving employees $2,000 to comply with vaccine mandate

October 26, 2021, 3:45 PM UTC

The Coca-Cola Co. says it will give workers a one-time $2,000 bonus if they are fully vaccinated before the U.S. government’s Dec. 8 deadline.

It’s the biggest push yet by the Atlanta-based soda giant to encourage its employees to protect themselves. The reasoning isn’t entirely altruistic; Coke is facing a deadline of its own.

Because Coke sells its products in national parks, military bases, and other U.S. government buildings, it falls under the broad swath of Biden’s federal vaccine mandate. The company has 8,500 employees throughout the U.S., but has not said how many of those are vaccinated at present.

Federal employees and contractors do not have the option to do weekly COVID-19 testing, as private businesses do.

If the $2,000 bonus is the carrot, Coca-Cola has not yet shown the stick. The company has not announced what will happen to employees who refuse to comply with the mandate. (Coke will also award the bonus to employees who receive medical or religious exemptions before the deadline.)

President Joe Biden began the process of requiring private businesses with at least 100 employees to put vaccine mandates in place in September. OSHA, which oversees the order, called an emergency temporary standard, would have the power to fine businesses up to $13,600 per violation.

While Dec. 8 might seem far away, the time frame to meet that deadline is tight. The mandate requires employees to be fully vaccinated, which is typically considered two weeks after the vaccine dose is administered. That would mean the second dose must be received by Nov. 24, 2021.

People who get a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine will need to factor in the necessary time for two doses, as well as the recommended waiting period between doses. For Pfizer, that’s 21 days. For Moderna, it’s 28 days.

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