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4 in 5 UK companies won't ask staff for proof of COVID vaccine

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·3-min read
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A worker walks past a Pimlico Plumbers van in London, Britain February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth
Pimlico Plumbers is one of the few firms to publically ask staff to prove they've had a vaccine. Photo: REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Most UK firms will not ask staff for proof they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 when they return to the office, according to a new survey.

A survey of more than 1,000 UK businesses conducted by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) found only 5% had put in place requirements for employees to show proof they have received their COVID-19 jabs.

When asked whether their business had any plans to require proof of vaccination from customers, suppliers or employees, 78% of respondents said no. Just 6% said they were likely to do so in the future.

The data comes amid reports that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is poised to scrap guidance on working from home and urge Brits back to the office from next month.

Employment lawyers have questioned whether proof of vaccine policies would be legally enforceable.

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, the government is reviewing whether employers can request COVID certification. 

WATCH: The world’s most unusual vaccination centers

"The preliminary indications from the review suggest that essential shops and services should never require COVID status certification," it said. "However, it seems likely other businesses may be left to make their own decisions."

One company that has decided to enforce a vaccination requirement is Pimlico Plumbers, which last year said it will introduce a 'no jab, no job' policy for its 400-strong workforce.

A general view of the headquarters of Pimlico Plumbers, who have stated that they will require new hires to be vaccinated against COVID-19, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in London, Britain January 14, 2021. REUTERS/Toby Melville
A general view of the headquarters of Pimlico Plumbers, who have stated that they will require new hires to be vaccinated against COVID-19, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in London, Britain January 14, 2021. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Charlie Mullins, Pimlico’s founder and former CEO, said in an interview to 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?”

The BCC data showed most businesses expect to keep COVID-19 measures such as social distancing, hand sanitiser and face masks in place over the next 12 months. 9% of companies said they didn’t expect to have any measures in place at all.

Bigger companies (with more than 50 staff) were more likely than smaller firms to either have either put requirements into place, or be thinking about doing so.

Only 4% of smaller firms said they already required proof vaccination and 6% said they were likely to in future.

69% of large firms still said they had no plans at all to require proof of vaccination from customers, suppliers or employees.

Read more: The UK cities returning to the office

BCC’s co-executive director Hannah Essex, said the government needed to provide clear guidance on what was required of businesses once lockdown lifts fully in July.

“There has been a great deal of mixed signals on the issue of businesses being required to demand proof of vaccination from customers, suppliers or employees," she said. "Our figures show that as it stands the vast majority of firms have no plans in place for such a scenario. 

“If government is indeed planning to make this a requirement in any sector, then it must act rapidly to inform businesses so that they can adjust and prepare."

WATCH: When should I start paying into a pension?

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