Your boss may be able to insist that you have a Covid vaccine – and if you refuse you could be sacked, according to reports.
The Telegraph says some Cabinet Ministers currently believe employers who fire people for refusing to have a Covid vaccine could be protected by legislation.
Tribunals have previously upheld the right of employers to fire someone who is infectious but refuses to stay away from work.
The question of whether someone could be fired for refusing to have a vaccine has never been tested.
But some ministers are said to believe it falls under health and safety at work legislation.
Employers have an obligation to ensure all their staff are safe – and if they believe someone is putting the safety of colleagues at risk they could take action.
A government told the paper: “If someone is working in an environment where people haven’t been vaccinated, it becomes a public health risk.
“Health and safety laws say you have to protect other people at work, and when it becomes about protecting other people the argument gets stronger.”
The source believes people could be protected from action by their employer if they have strong anti-vaccine beliefs, and legislation will also have to be used carefully to avoid any discrimination on grounds such as race or disability.
The Telegraph says ministers have not ruled out new legislation to make the law clear for employers and employees.
A minister this weekend said state-issued immunity passports will not be given out – but those inoculated against coronavirus will be able to ask their GP for written proof of their vaccine status if needed..
Downing Street has been adamant that it does not plan to issue so-called “vaccine passports” to allow people to prove they have had both doses of a vaccine .
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi, asked about whether the Government was considering issuing immunity passports, told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “No, we’re not.
“One, we don’t know the impact of the vaccines on transmission.
“Two, it would be discriminatory and I think the right thing to do is to make sure that people come forward to be vaccinated because they want to rather than it be made in some way mandatory through a passport.”
On travel, he said: “If other countries obviously require some form of proof, then you can ask your GP because your GP will hold your records and that will then be able to be used as your proof you’ve had the vaccine.
“But we are not planning to have a passport in the UK.”
Labour’s shadow business secretary Ed Miliband said vaccine passports “may be necessary” but raised questions over how they would be used.
“I am saying we should be open to this but there are complications to do this vaccine passport… Is it just for international travel? Is it for as you go about your business in your society?” the former party leader queried.
It comes as Government data up to February 6 confirmed that more than 12 million people in the UK have received their first dose – a rise of 549,078 on the previous day’s figures.
Mr Zahawi disclosed that nearly 1,000 vaccines a minute were provided in an hour on Saturday morning as the Government strives to meet its target of giving all over-70s and frontline healthcare workers their first dose by February 15.
During his Sunday broadcast interviews, the Government’s vaccine tsar looked to allay fears about the more infectious South African variant of coronavirus – which is being hunted in England by door-to-door testing teams – after a study found the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine offered only limited protection against mild disease caused by the mutation.
The study, first reported by the Financial Times, into the E484K mutation involved some 2,000 people, most of whom were young and healthy, meaning further data is required.
Mr Zahawi said the research showed the Oxford jab “does protect against severe disease” – a claim backed up by AstraZeneca in a statement.
But Covid-19 researcher at Imperial College London, Professor Robin Shattock, said even though the AstraZeneca variant study was small, it brought with it fresh worries about the South Africa variant.
“It is concerning to some extent that we’re seeing that it’s not effective against mild or moderate disease,” he told BBC Breakfast.
As the virus continues to adapt against the current vaccines on offer, Mr Zahawi suggested an annual rollout of booster jabs was likely to be required, with the first to come in the autumn.
Oxford vaccine lead researcher Professor Sarah Gilbert said that even if the vaccine proved less effective against emerging variants, the protection afforded would still take the pressure off the NHS.
“Maybe we won’t be reducing the number of cases as much, but we still won’t be seeing the deaths, hospitalisations and severe disease,” she told Marr.
“That’s really important for healthcare systems – even if we are having mild and asymptomatic infections, to prevent people going into hospital with Covid would have a major effect.”
Prof Gilbert said her team was working on having an adapted version of the Oxford jab that could tackle the South Africa mutation “available for the autumn”.
The Prime Minister is due to give an update later this month on how the lockdown will be lifted in England.
The target is for schools to return on March 8 and reports have suggested non-essential shops could be permitted to reopen in April, followed by pubs in May.
Mr Zahawi said Boris Johnson’s “road map” would be influenced by the data he is due to be shown on what protection vaccines have afforded people in terms of preventing transmission of the disease.
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, a vocal critic of the tiered system of restrictions used last year, said he supported the Prime Minister’s comments that there will be a national approach to releasing the lockdown.
“We don’t believe (tiers) worked and the better approach we think would be a phased national release from lockdown where other sectors can return after schools when it’s judged right to do so,” he told Sky News.
“That also means keeping in place the national support for sectors that will take longest to return.”
-- to www.walesonline.co.uk