Half of Britain’s workers expect their bosses to demand a vaccine passport before they can return to their workplace although the government has not regulated on mandatory jabs
The study of 5,000 workers across various sectors by HR software provider and employment law advice firm, BrightHR, found only 17% have had a conversation about their companies’ policy on vaccines, but over a third said they expect it will be mandatory.
A fifth of those surveyed admit they will fear for their health if their employers refused to make the vaccine mandatory for staff.
Opinions on the introduction of mandatory vaccinations are split, while nationally a third think it would be reckless of their employer not to introduce a policy on vaccinations, almost two thirds say it is far too controlling for an employer to introduce such measures.
Alan Price, CEO of BrightHR, which has created VaccTrack Lite, a free tool to help employers manage vaccinations and access expert advice, warns employers not to fall foul of the law in adopting mandatory vaccines.
‘Although half of people expect their employer to demand a vaccine passport, it remains to be seen how reasonable those demands are and, therefore, whether the employer is acting lawfully in doing so,’ said Price. ‘Employers must tread carefully when requiring employees to have the vaccine and ensure that their circumstances are appropriate. It may well become that the government will require employees in some sectors to have the vaccine, and the passport will be a simple way of evidencing that.’
When it comes to industry specifics, workers in the hospitality industry lead the charge in agreeing mandatory vaccines are a good idea at 44%, compared to 24% of office workers, 21% of key workers and a quarter of decision makers.
However, 45% said they worry that creating a ‘jabs for jobs’ policy would put unnecessary pressure on people who did not wish to be vaccinated. Over a third said they would worry about people who were not safe to have the vaccine pushing to get one to protect their income.
Of the 1,000 business decision makers polled almost half said they have talked about their views and company policy on making vaccines mandatory and the majority of staff agreed with their views, whilst a third said they have yet to discuss the issue with their staff.
Price added: ‘It’s good to see from our research that employers have started discussing the vaccine protocols they will put in place and how it will work. For those who haven’t, now is the time to start discussing with staff the next steps of how your company will be proceeding with opening of offices/workplaces. While some employers will be concerned due to the often-political discussions on vaccines using a tool like VaccTrack, will enable business leaders to get expert advice on issues that can quickly become problematic and controversial.’
For the 13% who do not plan on taking up the vaccine offered to them, their top worry is side effects. The study showed two thirds of workers worry about taking time off if they develop side effects from their vaccine. This is of particular concern to hospitality workers, who for many have only just started to return to work. Over three quarters of staff working in hospitality would be concerned with taking time off if they were to experience side effects from the vaccine, followed by business leaders (68%).
TV’s Dr Hillary Jones MBE said: ‘In the UK we have seen a big uptake in the vaccinations offered showing there is clearly trust in the science and the vaccine to get us out the pandemic. For all over 50s the uptake is an impressive and reassuring 94%. Side effects are very limited and temporary. If they occur at all they usually consist of soreness at the injection site, slight headache or fatigue for an hour or two. It’s a positive sign your immune system is responding. Serious blood clots are exceedingly rare, (about five in 1 million after the first dose of the AstraZeneca Oxford Covid-19 vaccine) which is around eight times less than the risk of these blood clots from the virus itself. People want to feel safe in the workplace and vaccines are important in helping them to feel safe.
‘The most recent studies have shown that 99% of people mount a robust immune response after just one dose of the vaccine. Hospitalisations are down 94% from the peak and the average number of daily deaths is down 98%. However, the pandemic is by no means over, and we will continue to rely on vaccines to lead us out of the crisis and to be able to lead more normal lives again.’
For office workers 47% say they would have concerns over using shared facilities such as lifts, kitchens and toilets with other companies who might have different views on vaccines. Although 80% say they trust their employer to keep a workplace clean and hygienic.
Whilst 50% say in general they think that policies on vaccines are too controlling, when it comes to specific settings such as working with medically vulnerable people 70% say that people working in that area should be made to have the vaccine.