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Employers hindering chances to get coronavirus vaccine, TUC says

Less than half (45%) of UK companies are giving staff paid time off to get vaccinated against COVID-19, creating barriers to immunisation according to the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

The union centre's poll of over 1,000 private sector employers found too many are not taking steps to ensure as many staff as possible get vaccinated against COVID-19.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said employers need to play their part in the economic recovery from the pandemic.  

She said: “Employers must play their part in Britain’s vaccine effort, every worker should be entitled to paid time off for their vaccination appointments, and to recover from any side effects.

“It must be as easy as possible for everyone to get vaccinated, including people in insecure work and precarious jobs.”

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The poll found almost one in seven (14%) private sector companies surveyed have introduced a policy of ‘no jab, no job’ for new or existing employees.

Though employers may be able to insist that new employees take the COVID-19 vaccine, HR is concerned it will create a minefield of compliance and discrimination issues.

The TUC said the approach is counterproductive, risks damaging employment relations and could be discriminatory.

O’Grady said: “As well as damaging trust and employee relations, no jab, no job policies may be discriminatory and open up employers to legal challenge.  

“Employers should instead encourage their workers to get vaccinated and make it as easy as possible, for example by giving them paid time off for the appointments.” 

Businesses must not use vaccination or testing programmes as an excuse to slack on coronavirus safety at work, added O’Grady.

She said: “As the UK prepares to open more workplaces over the coming months, every employer must make sure their workplaces meet Covid-Secure rules.” 

The TUC surveyed 1002 HR decision makers between 4 and 15 March 2021.