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The TUC has urged the government to put pressure on employers who it claims are hindering the UK’s vaccine rollout by refusing to give staff paid time off to receive and recover from their Covid jabs.
The trade union body said in a poll of private sector employers it found fewer than half were offering staff paid time-off to attend their vaccination appointments.
It said ministers needed to urgently address the barriers that workers faced in getting their jabs, and stressed that all employers should play their part in achieving this
The TUC’s survey of 1,002 firms found 45% had committed to letting staff take time off work, with pay, once they were offered an appointment.
The TUC’s general secretary Frances O’Grady said every worker should be entitled to paid leave to have their jab and while they recover from any side effects.
There are concerns that hard-pressed workers may end up turning down appointments during working hours to avoid losing out on pay.
“It must be as easy as possible for everyone to get vaccinated – including people in insecure work and precarious jobs,” O’Grady said. “The government must be loud and clear with companies about supporting their workforces to get vaccinated.”
Major businesses including IKEA, Metro Bank and Timpsons, have offered full pay for thousands of staff who need to take time off to get the jab. The John Lewis Partnership – which owns Waitrose – also confirmed in February that it would offer the same for its 78,000 partners.
However, the poll revealed that large companies were only marginally better than small firms in supporting workers with paid leave for vaccines. Only 49% of big firms were doing so, compared with 43% of small businesses.
The TUC said the findings were particularly concerning as jabs start to be offered to younger people, who make up a large part of the retail and leisure workforce and may find it difficult to find time for vaccination slots as pubs, shops and restaurants prepare to reopen from mid-April.
“Employers must play their part in Britain’s vaccine effort,” O’Grady said. “We all have a shared interest in getting everyone vaccinated as soon as possible. That’s how we make sure workplaces are safe. And it’s how we start rebuilding our country.”
The government said it encouraged businesses to be flexible when workers were called in for vaccinations.
“Businesses have been playing an important role in supporting the biggest vaccination programme in our nation’s history and the government encourages employers to be as flexible as possible when it comes to staff getting the jab,” a spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said.
The poll also found that 14%, or one in seven, private-sector firms have already introduced a “no jab, no job” policy for staff.
The issue was thrust into the spotlight in January after Pimlico Plumbers revealed its lawyers were drafting employment contracts for its 400-strong workforce that would bar any staff who were not vaccinated.
The TUC said mandatory vaccination policies risked damaging relations with employees, adding that rules could penalise certain groups like pregnant women, who are encouraged to avoid the vaccine unless they are at higher risk of complications owing to Covid.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: TUC says Covid vaccine efforts hindered by lack of paid time off for jab | TUC