UK employers step up demand for workers vaccinated against Covid

Employers in the UK are following the lead of their counterparts in the US by stepping up demands for staff to be vaccinated against Covid-19, analysis of recruitment adverts reveals.

Employers in the UK are following the lead of their counterparts in the US by stepping up demands for staff to be vaccinated against Covid-19, analysis of recruitment adverts reveals.

According to figures from the jobs website Adzuna, the number of ads explicitly requiring candidates to be vaccinated rose by 189% between August and October as more firms ask for workers to be jabbed before they start on the job.

Out of a total 1.2m job vacancies in the UK on its platform, the number of adverts requiring vaccination increased from 805 in August to 2,161 in September and 2,324 in October.

Employers specifying the need for vaccination include the outsourcing firm G4S, which has multiple vacancies where jabs are required – they include school cleaner in London, administrator in Essex, and healthcare assistant in Bridgend. G4S said it was not its own policy to require vaccination, but that of the employers it was contracted to.

The sectors with the highest proportion of job adverts mandating vaccination are in social care, at 2% of all positions, followed by healthcare and nursing at 0.9%, charity jobs at 0.6%. Part-time roles, domestic help and cleaning jobs also featured.

Sajid Javid, the health secretary, announced this month that health service workers in England would need to be vaccinated by next April or risk being sacked. The rule built on a July announcement that all care home workers in England must be vaccinated by 11 November. Mandatory vaccination rules do not apply in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Unions have argued that “no jab, no job” policies risk the collapse of care companies, with the government expecting the loss of up to 70,000 care home staff. Civil liberty campaigners have also warned against mandatory vaccination rules, instead urging ministers to focus on educating people about vaccines and helping people to make informed consent.

Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna, said the figures could illustrate the start of a wider trend in Britain. “A taboo appears to be breaking where large corporations are putting a stake in the ground and saying, ‘Right, you have to be vaccinated by certain date,’” he said.

He said the UK appeared to be following the lead of firms in the US and Canada, a trend that was not yet evident in European countries such as France, the Netherlands and Germany.

“Earlier this year you could count the number of job adverts asking for vaccinations on one hand, but it seems to be growing exceptionally as the year goes on.”

The development comes as growing numbers of US companies request that their staff are double-jabbed amid a push by the president, Joe Biden, to increase vaccination rates.

The White House announced this month that businesses with 100 or more workers would need to be vaccinated by 4 January or face mask requirements and weekly tests, although the rule has faced legal challenges and opposition in some states.

Some large US companies, including Facebook, Goldman Sachs and Google, have announced that they would require workers returning to their US offices to be vaccinated against Covid.

The investment bank Citigroup told its US staff last month either to get the Covid vaccine or get fired.

Adzuna said the proportion of US job adverts requiring a vaccine had risen to 0.9% by October, with about 69,000 positions on its website out of a total 7.9m vacancies, led by sectors such as healthcare and nursing, hospitality and catering, and social work.

In the US, the jobs website – which is tracked by the Office for National Statistics for early warning signs from the employment market – is also seeing employers offering vaccine bonuses as incentives. These are not currently trends in the British figures.

A spokesperson for the UK government said: “While we welcome employers who support their staff to get vaccinated, those who propose to check the vaccination status of new or existing members of staff will need to consider how this fits with their legal obligations under employment, equalities and data protection law.”