British companies consider ‘no jab, no job’ contracts for workers

Minister leaves it ‘up to businesses’ to choose their own vaccine policy

A vaccinator administers an injection of AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccine to a patient at the vaccination centre set up at Chester Racecourse, in Chester, northwest England, on February 15, 2021.  Prime Minister Boris Johnson on February 14 called Britain hitting a target of inoculating 15 million of the most vulnerable people with a first coronavirus jab "a significant milestone", as the country prepared for the next phase of its vaccination programme. / AFP / Oli SCARFF
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British businesses are considering “no jab, no job” contracts for employees after the government said that it could not stop employers from requiring workers to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

Some law firms and care home companies have said that they won't hire unvaccinated staff once the UK's adult population has been offered inoculation, while London-based Pimlico Plumbers, one of the country's largest plumbing firms, last month announced a "no jab, no job" recruitment policy.

Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said on Tuesday that it was “up to businesses” to decide whether they wanted workers or customers to be vaccinated. “It is obviously up to businesses what they do but I think at the moment we don't yet have the evidence of the effect of the vaccines on transmission,” he told the BBC.

Barchester Healthcare, which runs more than 200 care homes in the UK, said that it wouldn’t hire people who refuse the Covid-19 vaccine on non-medical grounds.

Law firms that wished to remain anonymous told the Financial Times that some companies were considering a requirement that existing employees be vaccinated.

The UK events industry is particularly keen on vaccine passports or rapid Covid testing to reignite the sector after nearly a year of closure.

“We will consider any route that gets our doors open safely again,” said Greg Parmley, chief executive of music sector trade body Live.

Ministers are reluctant to endorse domestic vaccine passports because such a scheme raises the prospect of discrimination against people who can’t receive a vaccine, and could undermine public confidence in the vaccination campaign.

The Confederation of British Industries said that there was no need to force workers to be vaccinated, and that businesses were “committed to doing everything they could to inform and engage their employees on the benefits of the vaccine”.

Meanwhile, Mr Zahawi said that the government was looking into creating a vaccine certificate to allow international travel to resume. “If other countries will require a vaccine certificate then I think it is right that we facilitate it,” he said.

In pictures - coronavirus in the UK