Unite, Unison and TUC among unions urging the government to speak out against proposed “no jab, no job” employment contracts.
Trade unions have responded to various reports of employers considering so-called “no jab, no job” rules by urging the government to reject such proposals and warning employers they could face legal action if they try to force staff to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
The intervention came after Pimlico Plumbers became the latest employer to impose the “no jab, no rule”. The company’s outspoken boss Charlie Mullins today confirmed that all new starters would have to take a Covid jab to get a job.
Commenting on his planned “no jab, no job” contracts, Mullins told Radio 4 this week: “We’ll be using the new contacts two to three months from now. When people come along for a job with us if they’re not happy to sign that then that’s their choice but they certainly won’t be given a job with Pimlico Plumbers.”
The “no jab, no job” concept has been the subject of much debate in the past few weeks, with the care home operator Barchester Healthcare among the other firms saying that all new recruits must be vaccinated – unless they have a medical reason no to have the jab.
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi has previously said that it is “up to businesses what they do” in relation to the vaccine, a sentiment that was echoed by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab yesterday on LBC Radio. However, trade union Unison has said that it “is totally unacceptable” for employers to pressure staff into being vaccinated.
Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, urged everyone to be vaccinated to support the NHS but added: “The government should make clear that making vaccination a condition of employment is the wrong approach. It may be discriminatory and open up employers to legal challenge. Ministers must remind employers to make sure their workplaces meet Covid-secure guidelines.”
Unite, meanwhile, has highlighted that as well as being legally questionable, “no jab, no job” contracts also further stoke a divisive, worker-blaming culture that allows “bad employers” to abdicate their health and safety responsibilities regarding making workplaces Covid-secure.
Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: “The No Jab, No Job narrative is a disgraceful attempt to create a divisive narrative around workers and the vaccine. It ignores the reality that it is workers who have been demanding safe working conditions, engagement with our safety reps, an effective workplace testing regime, proper pay for those who have to self-isolate and now the vaccine.
“It is not workers who have risked lives through this crisis. Workers have kept the nations going through this crisis, putting their lives at risk and sadly on many occasions losing their lives. It is the decisions of Government that have cost lives through this crisis, not the actions of workers.”
The Government has pledged to vaccinate 15 million people in Britain by mid-February, with Boris Johnson promising that 200,000 doses would be administered per day by the end of this week.