It may be legal for UK businesses to insist on new employees being vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of their employment, the justice secretary has said.
In an interview with ITV last week, Robert Buckland said it was unlikely bosses could make existing workers have the jab under their current contracts.
However, insisting that new staff be vaccinated could, in theory, be possible, if it was written into their contacts.
He said that the legality of “no jab, no job” would depend “very much on the terms of employment and the particular contract”.
“Generally speaking I’d be surprised if there were contracts of employment existing now that did make that approach lawful. I think frankly the issue would have to be tested,” he added.
Buckland’s comments follow the news that care home operator Barchester Healthcare said it “won’t hire someone who refuses a COVID-19 vaccine”.
A Barchester spokesperson told our sister title Care Home Professional last month: “Our current position is that we are will not hire someone who has refused to have the vaccine on non-medical grounds. We have not said that we will sack staff who refuse the vaccine on non-medical grounds; instead we have brought in behavioural nudges which we hope will encourage staff to be cognisant of the responsibility we have to protect our residents and relatives. Staff can make their own choice about whether to have the vaccine but we strongly encourage it.”
Click here to read what Anna Dabek, a partner in the Employment and Pensions scheme at Anthony Collins Solicitors, says about care providers making COVID-19 vaccines mandatory.