Over half of UK employees think staff should take COVID jab before returning to work

LaToya Harding
·3-min read
Office staff respecting social distancing during a meeting. Group of business men and women having a meeting in office during corona virus pandemic.
Research found strong support for employers incentivising staff to take the vaccination, with 39% of respondents agreeing that firms should offer financial incentives such as a cash bonus. Photo: Getty

More than half (56%) of UK workers think employees should be required to take a COVID-19 vaccine before being allowed back to work, new research has revealed.

The survey of 2,000 UK employees by company review platform Glassdoor also found strong support for employers incentivising staff to take the vaccination, with 39% of respondents agreeing that firms should offer financial incentives such as a cash bonus.

Only 12% of those surveyed said they do not intend to take a COVID-19 vaccine, however, one in four revealed they would be more likely to get the jab if their employer incentivised them to do so.

The research also discovered that 14% of people would quit their jobs if they were forced to return before all staff had been inoculated. In addition to this more than two in three (68%) employees believed that social distancing and wearing masks should remain compulsory until everyone in the office had been vaccinated.

One quarter of respondents admitted to being put under pressure from their employer to return to the office as soon as they received the COVID vaccine. However, 40% of employees said that their employer had not communicated a clear plan with regards to the timing and policies for returning to the office.

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“The UK government has made it clear that it is a business decision whether the COVID-19 vaccine is mandatory for all staff,” Carina Cortez, chief people officer at Glassdoor, said.

“With the majority of employees appearing to want standard precautions such as social distancing to remain until all employees have been vaccinated, employers should be working on their office re-entry plan.”

She added: “It seems UK employees are unwilling to be rushed back into the office, so we recommend each employer must take into account employee feedback to determine what is best for their workforce, including a policy on whether vaccinations will be compulsory.

“This is an incredibly sensitive area but the bigger opportunity here is to define what office life will be like, both this year and in the long term.”

It comes as the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) last month advised employers that although they cannot force staff to have the COVID-19 vaccine, they should encourage them to do so.

The professional body has launched new guidance for companies to help them understand their responsibilities towards staff, and support them as the vaccine rollout continues and they return to the workplace.

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Guidance includes encouraging vaccination, adopting a vaccination policy, planning for employees who cannot have the jab, and employees who may be hesitant or refuse.

Peter Cheese, chief executive of CIPD, said: “The widescale vaccine rollout really is uncharted territory for employers. Many are confused as to what their role in it is, to protect their workforce, business and customers.

“The UK government hasn’t made the vaccine compulsory so neither can employers. Nor should they be restricting people coming to work based on whether they have had the vaccine. Instead, employers – in line with official public health guidance – should consider promoting the importance of staff getting the vaccine and highlight official advice to show its safety and effectiveness.”

More than 22 million people have now been vaccinated with a first dose so far in the UK.

The government hopes that all adults can be vaccinated by the autumn and plans to have a total of 2,700 vaccine sites across the country.

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