UK Employers demand more workers are vaccinated against Covid-19

Following the UK government announcement in early November that all NHS staff must be vaccinated by April 1st 2022 or face losing their jobs, and the deadline for all UK care home workers to be vaccinated by 11th November 2021; job adverts for non-NHS jobs have started to request that prospective staff are also vaccinated. “No jab, no job” policies appear to be making an appearance in an increasing number of UK job advertisements, despite guidance from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) remaining to the contrary (see August’s edition of the Advisory Debrief for a previous report on this).

Job adverts in the UK requesting that applicants must be vaccinated, rose by 189% between August and October, according to a recent report by jobs website Adzuna. It appears that some UK employers may be following the lead of companies in the US who have been demanding that their current and prospective employees are vaccinated on an ever increasing level.

From a total 1.2 million job vacancies on the job website Adzuna in the UK, the number of adverts requesting full vaccination of the candidates increased from 805 in August, to 2,161 in September and 2,324 in October. Sectors with the highest proportion of adverts mandating vaccination were: social care (2%), healthcare and nursing (0.9%), charity jobs (0.6%) and part-time roles including domestic assistance and cleaning jobs.

The co-founder of Adzuna, Andrew Hunter commented on the trend:

“A taboo appears to be breaking where large corporations are putting a stake in the ground and saying, ‘Right, you have to be vaccinated by certain date’…Earlier this year you could count the number of job adverts asking for vaccinations on one hand, but it seems to be growing exceptionally as the year goes on.”

In the US, President Joe Biden is encouraging an increase in vaccination rates and this month the White House announced that businesses employing over 100 people must have staff vaccination as a requirement, or introduce face masks and weekly test systems. Other large US companies such as Facebook, Goldman Sachs, Google and Citigroup have also announced that they will require staff returning to their offices to be vaccinated. Some US employers are even beginning to offer vaccine bonuses to staff as an incentive.

A UK plumbing company recently chose to make vaccination mandatory for their workforce. The company introduced a “no jab no job” policy and are only hiring new staff who have been vaccinated. This move has been questioned by employment lawyers however, who have said that attempts to force employees to be vaccinated could lead to discrimination, constructive dismissal or hefty compensation claims when not even the UK government has the power to enforce the vaccination of citizens.

The CIPD guidance for the UK remains cautionary and reminds employers that there are a number of issues to consider with regards to mandatory vaccination. The CIPD website states that:

“Mandatory vaccination may discriminate on the basis of disability, or religious or philosophical belief. Employers cannot require employees or potential employees to be vaccinated, unless they work in a sector (such as care homes) where a legal requirement has been introduced.”

A spokesperson from the UK government has reinforced this guidance for UK employers, warning that:

“While we welcome employers who support their staff to get vaccinated, those who propose to check the vaccination status of new or existing members of staff will need to consider how this fits with their legal obligations under employment, equalities and data protection law.”

For more guidance on this subject, visit the CIPD website here.

Vaccine mandates in other countries

  • Italy - the first country in Europe to introduce mandatory vaccines for healthcare workers. Discussion is ongoing regarding the possibility of extending the obligation to other groups amid rising cases.

  • New Zealand - requirements announced last month for teachers and heath and disability sector workers to be fully vaccinated.

  • Canada - all workers in federal public service and federally regulated transport sectors are required to be vaccinated.

  • France - all healthcare workers must be vaccinated.

  • Singapore - offering a financial incentive - the government refusing to pay Covid-19 medical bills for people who are unvaccinated by choice.

  • Indonesia - mandatory vaccination for all adults, those who do not comply can suffer heavy fines.

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