A new survey from employment advisory agency Acas has found that more than one in five U.K. employers plan to implement a ‘no jab no job’ policy in the year ahead for both new and existing staff.
Acas commissioned YouGov to ask British businesses about whether they plan to make it a requirement for staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment.
Acas Chief Executive, Susan Clews, said:
Most workplaces are starting to navigate what working life should look like post-pandemic and it is clear from our poll that most employers have no plans to require staff to be vaccinated. One in five employers want to make it a requirement for staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in the year ahead but this is a very tricky area of employment law. It is always best to support staff to get the vaccine rather than insisting that they get it and it’s a good idea for employers to get legal advice before bringing in a vaccine policy. Acas has advice on how best to support staff to get the vaccine and avoid conflict.
Employers were asked whether they planned to implement a ‘no jab no job’ policy for new staff in the year ahead. The poll revealed that:
• more than one in five of employers (22%) said yes
• over half of employers (52%) said no
• 21% said that they do not know or are not sure
• 5% preferred not to say
Employers were also asked whether they planned to implement a ‘no jab no job’ policy for existing staff. The poll showed that:
• more than one in five of employers (21%) said yes
• over half of employers (55%) said no
• 19% said that they do not know or are not sure
• 4% preferred not to say
Acas warns against discrimination and advises that it is best to support staff to get the COVID-19 vaccine rather than requiring them to get it.
There is currently no law in England, Scotland or Wales that says employees must have the vaccine. The Government removed the previous requirements for care home, health and social care staff on March 15th 2022.
If an employer feels it is important for staff to be vaccinated, then they should talk with staff or the organisation’s recognised trade union if they have one. Talking with staff can help to:
• agree a vaccine policy that’s appropriate for both staff and the organisation
• support staff to protect their health
• keep good working relationships
• avoid disputes in the future
There are some practical ways that employers could support staff such as paying them their usual rate of pay if they are off sick with vaccine side-effects instead of statutory sick pay. Employers could also consider offering staff paid time off for vaccination appointments.
If someone does not want to be vaccinated, then the employer should listen to their concerns. Some people may have health reasons such as an allergic reaction to the vaccine and some employees may have other reasons for not wanting to be vaccinated.
Employers should be sensitive towards personal situations and must be careful to avoid discrimination.
Given the acute worker shortage, with vacancies outnumbering the unemployed for the first time on record, you wouldn’t have thought over a fifth of employers could really afford to tell the unvaccinated they’re not welcome, let alone any legal or ethical considerations.
Of course, we do need to bear in mind that it’s an online YouGov poll, which appear to have consistently overestimated support for restrictions.