Could Employers Soon Be Asking for Only Vaccinated Candidates?
In her latest blog, Joanne Crampton, Head of Thorn Baker EFM talks about people’s attitudes towards vaccinations in the workplace.
Our weekly LinkedIn poll created a surprising amount of engagement recently – after having my 1st Covid-19 jab in early May (and feeling considerably worse the wear for it), we had a spirited discussion within the Thorn Baker team – should employers be allowed to require new and existing employees to have the jab?
Having decided to post the poll on LinkedIn, I went on with my day and forgot about it – until my phone starting dinging with the notifications...
Seeing the incoming results and comments, I was surprised with just how many people were not only opposed to the idea of an employer expecting their workforce to have the jab, but also how many people also considered it immoral, illegal and in direct opposition to their civil liberties.
I myself voted to question the legality of employers potentially restricting applications from prospective candidates – could this be seen as a form of discrimination?
Potentially not, as another contributor argued. Having the vaccination (unless prevented by a medical condition) could apply as AFARP (As Far As Reasonably Possible) under H&S law, and freedom of choice does not apply under these circumstances. He went on to point out that the courts had already upheld a ruling that a lorry driver was not unfairly dismissed for refusing to wear a mask.
So it could be reasonably argued that refusing to offer a job to someone who chose not to have the vaccine would also be applying H&S protection protocols to their existing workforce/clients/the public who could come into contact with the potential new employee.
There was further discussion about differences in working environments that might have more stringent requirements in place – for example, its reasonable to expect healthcare professionals and those working in the prison service to, as an absolute minimum, complete a screening for risk of Tuberculosis and are strongly advised to have the BCG vaccination (although the guidance stops short of stating that they absolutely must have the jab).
Should similar guidance or advice be included on employment guidelines for organisations like the NHS or HMPS for employees to have the Covid 19 jab?
NHS Regional Vaccines, Published 11 May 2021
And for those that are vocal in their anti-vaxxer stance, is there a risk of unconscious or even conscious bias against those that have refused the jab in terms of future employment or promotion prospects?
In the world of Facilities Management outsourcing, there is a further layer to this – when will we hear of the first client who tells their FM provider that all of their cleaning operatives or engineers must show proof of vaccination before attending a site, in the same way, that some end-user clients require all supplier personnel to have a DBS or credit check?
Until the vaccination rollout is complete and offered to all adults of employment age, there can be no clear cut answers – certainly, we will not see any specific examples until after the adult population in the UK has been offered their jab.
But with the advent of vaccination passports incoming shortly with an update to the NHS app, airlines, pubs, restaurants and hotels could all start to specify ‘only vaccinated customers please.’
Do you think it's only a short hop from there to ‘only vaccinated employees please’? Let us know! You can leave a comment below or contact the team here. We'd love to hear your thoughts on this.