Covid-19: Requirements for employees to be vaccinated must be ‘non-discriminatory’, equalities watchdog warns employers

The equalities watchdog has cautioned employers to be “proportionate” and “non-discriminatory” amid concerns of the prospect of the emergence of “no jab, no job” policies

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said that although it understood firms will want to protect both their staff and customers by requiring employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19, it advises them to take other factors into consideration.

This comes after Netflix Facebook and Google are requiring employees to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 before they return to the office in the United States.

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However, although the UK’s Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has suggested it is a good idea for people to be double jabbed before returning to the office, it will not be required by legislation - apart from those working in care homes.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said that although it understood firms will want to protect both their staff and customers by requiring employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19, it advises them to take other factors into consideration (Photo: Shutterstock)

Parliament approved legislation to introduce compulsory Covid-19 vaccinations for care home staff in England earlier this month.

From November, anyone working in a Care Quality Commission-registered care home in England must have two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine unless they have a medical exemption.

When asked if it is a good idea for people to have the two vaccine doses before they go back to the office, Mr Shapps told Sky News: “Yes it is a good idea and yes some companies will require it.

“We are not going to make that legislation that every adult has to be double vaccinated before they go back to the office, but yes it is a good idea and yes some companies will require it.”

‘Requirements must be proportionate’

An EHRC spokesman said: “Employers are right to want to protect their staff and their customers, particularly in contexts where people are at risk, such as care homes.

“However, requirements must be proportionate, non-discriminatory and make provision for those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.”

Professor Stephen Reicher, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours (Spi-B) - which advises the Government - also told The Guardian that making vaccines mandatory may be reasonable for those in jobs where they are responsible for the physical care of others.

However, he noted that the negatives outweigh the benefits for other employers.

He told the newspaper: “It is far better and more effective to secure vaccination through engagement rather than through imposition.”