The coronavirus vaccine has been a massive breakthrough for curbing the spread of COVID-19. And, understandably, employers are keen for staff to be immunised. But are the ‘no jab, no job’ announcements being made by some companies a sensible approach to protecting people’s health – or could they cause a recruitment nightmare?
To say that COVID-19 has disrupted business operations would be an understatement. Since March 2020, companies across the world have completely changed their set-up – working from home, social distancing in the workplace, or pivoting their core offering in response to local trading restrictions.
We’re all hopeful that the coronavirus vaccines developed by companies such as Pfizer will restore some sort of normality to the commercial sector. And many firms have been vocal about their desire for staff to be immunised if they want to carry on working.
For example, Pimlico Plumbers in London has been public about its support for a ‘no jab, no job’ policy. While the firm acknowledges that nobody should be forced into vaccination, Chairman Charlie Mullins has stated “we will, when vaccinations are readily available, make having one a condition of employment for all people who are able to have the vaccine safely.”
The UK is not the only country where organisations are adopting this approach. Aged & Community Services Australia’s Chief Executive, Patricia Sparrow, has said the COVID-19 vaccination should be mandatory for care sector workers – just as they’re already required to have an annual flu shot.
But what does mandatory employee immunisation mean for recruiters, especially if other companies follow suit? There are positives and negatives to consider…
The good news for recruiters is that a COVID-safe workplace is a massive check in the box for potential employees. Candidates want to know that employers are taking the coronavirus pandemic seriously, and that they value the safety and wellbeing of their workforce.
Encouraging staff to get vaccinated will also enable companies to get people back into the office if they so wish – and many professionals are keen to take up this offer. After spending a year trying to work from home in noisy or cramped environments, there are people who relish the idea of different scenery and a chance to collaborate face-to-face.
In addition, there’s a bottom-line impact to mass company vaccinations. Customers may feel more confident buying goods and services from businesses where the whole team has been immunised.
It’s obvious why a service like Pimlico Plumbers, where technicians will be entering people’s homes, want to prioritise inoculation. Pioneering the no jab, no job approach could help companies steal a competitive edge – and increasing the need to recruit new talented.
For all the benefits, however, there is another side to consider. How will a no jab, no job policy support the employment prospects of those who cannot access the COVID-19 vaccine?
On a practical level, vaccinations are being rolled out in a phased programme. In the short-term, this could mean that some professionals benefit sooner than others. Those with no underlying health conditions, or who live in a part of their country where distribution is slow, could lose out on recruitment opportunities.
Equally, some people may face a longer wait – or complete exclusion – because of their personal circumstances. There has been much discussion as to whether the vaccine is suitable for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, for example. Additionally, severe allergy sufferers have been told to avoid the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID vaccine after two people with a history of reactions suffered adverse effects when they were vaccinated.
For employers, these complexities and restrictions reduce the size of the potential talent pool that they can draw from. And for recruiters, strong candidates may fall to the back of the queue – or they may not be eligible for certain roles altogether.
Benefits and drawbacks aside, it’s important that recruitment agencies work with clients to understand how the businesses on your books are approaching vaccination. Some may be insistent that new starters are inoculated; others may view it as optional, but advantageous.
The challenge for recruiters is tracking companies’ opinions on getting the COVID-19 jab, and whether candidates have been immunised already. Some countries will be supporting this at national level; the UK government has already discussed rolling out a COVID immunity passport.
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