Companies in Britain have been tasking law firms to craft “no jab, no job” contracts that would bar prospective employees from being hired unless they have been vaccinated against the Chinese coronavirus.
While the government has publicly claimed that it has no intentions of requiring domestic vaccine passports, ministers have admitted that private businesses may take up the mantle of imposing it on the British public.
Speaking to the Financial Times, law firms said that they have already been contacted by companies, including care homes and multinational corporations, which are looking to draw up contracts that would require employees to be inoculated against the virus.
One unnamed attorney told the paper that such requirements could be risky as they might trigger discrimination claims from people who refuse to take the vaccine on religious grounds, pregnant women, or those who have health conditions, such as allergies, which prevent them from taking the jab.
The lawyer did note that in sectors in which employees are surrounded by at-risk people, such as in care homes, so-called “no jab, no job” contracts may ultimately be defensible.
Some of the law firms contacted claimed that businesses have also begun inquiring about how to require that those already employed receive the vaccine.
However, companies seeking to change the contracts of people already employed would need to gain the consent of the worker, a partner at the law firm Lewis Silkin, James Davies, cautioned.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said that there was no justification for businesses to require vaccines for employees, saying that mass testing would be a preferable option.
The chief executive of the human resource firm CIPD, Peter Cheese, said: “The UK government hasn’t made the vaccine compulsory, so neither can employers.”
Mr Cheese added: “Nor should they be restricting people coming into work based on whether they have had the vaccine.”
On Tuesday, Britain’s vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “It’s up to businesses what they do, but we don’t yet have the evidence of the effect of vaccines on transmission.”
Zahawi had previously said that such a scheme would be wrong and discriminatory.
On Sunday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that the use of vaccine passports on a domestic level is being considered by the government in such places as supermarkets.
In January, the anti-Brexit founder of Pimlico Plumbers announced that he would be requiring his employees to be vaccinated, boldly pronouncing “no vaccine, no job”.
Charlie Mullins said that he will make it “standard” in employment contracts that “you’re required to have a vaccine”, saying: “We won’t be employing people in the future unless they’ve got a vaccine.”