Majority of managers think firms should make Covid jabs mandatory, poll finds

22 Mar 2021 By Lauren Brown

Survey also reveals divisions over whether employers should restrict workplace access for staff who refuse to get the vaccine

The majority of UK managers believe businesses should be allowed to make Covid vaccinations mandatory, a recent poll has found.

The Chartered Management Institute’s (CMI) latest bi-monthly Managers Voice Pulse Point Poll, conducted in the second week of March, found that, of the 1,068 respondents, almost three in five (58 per cent) believed businesses should be allowed to make Covid vaccinations mandatory for staff returning to their regular place of work. This compares to just a third (35 per cent) who did not. 

However, there are still divisions on the best way to handle employees’ return to the workplace.

A separate survey of 1,050 managers, also conducted by the CMI at the end of January, found half (50 per cent) were concerned about managing the potential conflict between staff reluctant to get the Covid vaccination and staff who felt unsafe working with those who did not get a vaccination.

Almost three in five (59 per cent) respondents believed it was a manager’s role to encourage employees to get vaccinated, compared to a third (36 per cent) who did not.

And more than two in five (43 per cent) managers also agreed they should restrict access to the workplace for staff who refused the vaccine for non-medical reasons, compared to a similar proportion (44 per cent) who did not.

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Ann Francke, chief executive of the CMI, said managers had “shown a significant level of support for mass testing and vaccinations”.

“Ultimately, nobody can be forced to receive the vaccine. But if an individual chooses not to be vaccinated, remote working must be an available option so as not to put colleagues at needless risk,” she said.

Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the CIPD, said employers should encourage staff to have the vaccine when offered, in line with public health advice, and suggested they be flexible about working hours or paid time off to enable people to attend their vaccination appointments.

He added: “There will be a small minority of people who don’t get the vaccine either because they can’t for medical reasons or choose not to, and employers must be careful not to stigmatise or discriminate against them.

“It is also crucial that organisations continue to follow Covid-secure guidelines and government advice for those who attend the workplace.”

Reacting to the findings, Alan Price, CEO of BrightHR, said while the government maintained that under no circumstances would vaccination be made a legal requirement, the decision will ultimately come down to employers to decide whether they have sufficient grounds to make it necessary in their organisation.

Last month, Andrew Willis, head of legal and advisory at HR-inform, told People Management that making vaccination compulsory was a “risky line to take” and one that could lead to claims of unfair or constructive unfair dismissal if an individual was fired or resigned over the issue.

“There are many things you can do first before seeking to compel somebody to have a vaccination,” he said, “[and] it will be a very rare case where compelling somebody to have a vaccination would be justified at this stage.” 

Price added: “Ultimately, it will come down to the facts of the specific case and the reasonableness of a contractually mandatory vaccine will not be subject to a blanket rule.” 

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