The idea of making new staff vaccinated as a condition of their employment has been brought up by a London-based company called Pimlico Plumbers. In an interview with ITV on Wednesday, Robert Buckland, the Secretary of State for Justice, said only enlisting new staff once they had been inoculated was possible if it was written into their contracts. “It is legal for businesses to insist on new employees being vaccinated as a condition of their employment,” he added.
Pimlico Plumbers has already said it would not hire new staff who refused the vaccination on non-medical grounds, with founder Charlie Mullins telling the BBC that he’d been advised it was legal. “We’ve obviously been talking to lawyers and they’re very happy that we can add this proposal to any new workers that start with us once the vaccine is rolled out,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“We’ll be using the new contracts two to three months from now. When people come along for a job with us, if they’re not happy to sign that, then again that’s their choice, but they certainly won’t be given a job with Pimlico Plumbers.”
A blog post by Pimlico Plumbers asserted, however, that existing staff would not be forced to take the vaccine. Mullins told City AM: “When we go off to Africa and Caribbean countries, we have to have a jab for malaria – we don’t think about it, we just do it. So why would we accept something within our country that’s going to kill us when we can have a vaccine to stop it?”
“We won’t be employing people in the future unless they’ve got a vaccine … If they want to sit at home and not lead a normal life then, don’t have a vaccine.”
David Samuels, legal director at law firm Lewis Silkin, confirmed there was nothing legally to stop a business from placing a “no jab, no job” clause in contracts for new hires. But he said such policies could be shown to be ‘discriminatory.’
He recommended that employers analyze each job role and evaluate health and safety risks before introducing such a clause. If they failed to do this, he added, they could leave themselves open to a legal challenge, on the basis it was unfair or discriminatory, if a claimant could prove they were unable to access the vaccine.