FFor Charlie Mullins the matter is clear. “As soon as vaccinations are readily available, we will make vaccination a prerequisite for employment for all those who can be vaccinated safely,” says the head of the London-wide installation company “Pimlico Plumbers”.
After all, it’s about the safety of employees and customers. “What is the difference between a vaccination against a virus that can lead to death and a protective helmet on a construction site that can prevent a worker from dying because something heavy falls on his head?” He defended the decision at the end January.
Mullins is of the opinion that a new job – today’s employees are not affected by the rule – should be coupled with a vaccination in the future, not alone. “No jab, no job”, is the catchy name of the model in English, “no prick, no work”.
Barchester Healthcare, an operator of more than 200 nursing homes in the country, plans to have similar rules. From the end of April, CEO Peter Calveley only wants to use vaccinated nurses, even if that should lead to staff shortages in some facilities.
As in many other countries, the debate about the obligation to vaccinate in Great Britain has been bitter for weeks. Labor lawyers point out that certain settings, such as nursing homes, may warrant coercion to reduce the risk of disease outbreaks in institutions.
For most jobs, however, lawyers consider compulsion to be risky. It could be interpreted in court as discrimination, for example in the case of pregnant women for whom it is not clear how well the vaccination is tolerated or if the vaccination is rejected for religious reasons.
Regular tests were considered as an alternative to mandatory vaccination
The industry association CBI is currently soliciting opinions from law firms on how best to encourage their employees to get vaccinated and what pressure is possible.
Getting these steps right could determine whether or not reopening the economy will be a success, CBI CEO Tony Danker told the Financial Times.
In many companies, regular tests are being considered as an alternative to mandatory vaccination, as this step is easier to implement. For practical reasons, a regular test obligation could possibly also lead employees to get vaccinated.
The government is also relying on the alternative of a current corona test when considering a health certificate. The obligation to provide evidence for the conservative party colleagues of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, many of whom see individual rights in danger through the evidence, should be easier to digest. The use of an app from the NHS public health service for this purpose is being discussed.
It is up to companies to decide whether they want to let customers who cannot prove a vaccination into restaurants or event rooms, said Minister Nadhim Zahawi, who is responsible for the vaccination campaign.
Just recently he had described vaccination records as “discriminatory”. As a “vaccination certificate”, Johnson has now announced the testing of precisely such an instrument.
“We have the many concerns about exclusion, discrimination and privacy in mind,” he said. But he also emphasized: “There might well be a need for such evidence, but we have to get it right.”
Proof could be necessary after the announced loosening of the lockdown in the coming months, for example when attending major events such as football matches or concerts.
But it could also be compulsory when visiting much smaller facilities, for example in the pub. “This is an area where we’re looking at something new in the country, we’ve never had that sort of thing, we’ve never thought of having to show anything to go to the pub or the theater,” Johnson said on Tuesday.
EU countries are also experimenting with proof of vaccination
He has commissioned his ministerial colleague Michael Gove to plan for such evidence. A similar model is already in use in Israel. When visiting fitness studios, hotels or synagogues, the “green passport” is checked, an app from the Ministry of Health that proves the vaccination. With Denmark, Estonia and Greece, a number of EU countries also check evidence of vaccination.
Trade unions also express concerns about the evidence. In addition to the risk of discrimination, they could also lead to companies no longer taking the hygiene rules for warding off Covid seriously, warned Frances O’Grady, head of the Trades Union Congress. The state commission for equality and human rights pointed out that there could be discrimination.
But while the use of proof of vaccination is being examined further in many contexts, many consumers have long had to adapt to this in their travel plans.
The cruise operator Saga, specializing in customers over 50, announced in January that from the beginning of next season all travelers would have to have their last vaccination at least two weeks in advance. Crystal Cruises, part of the Hong Kong-based Genting Group, has been calling for this since mid-February.
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