More than half of UK business managers believe it is their job to encourage employees to get a Covid-19 vaccination to make sure workplaces are safe for the return of employees.
However, business leaders’ opinions are divided over whether people who have refused the Covid-19 vaccine for non-medical reasons should be prevented from returning to work, according a national survey by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).
Of the business leaders polled 43% thought that access to offices should be restricted for those people who have decided not to get the jab, while 44% disagreed, highlighting the moral minefield surrounding the return to work after the pandemic.
The CMI survey found 58% of managers believed that UK firms should be allowed to make vaccinations mandatory for staff returning to their usual place of work, an approach which has been labelled “no jab, no job”.
At a time when many countries around the world are considering “vaccine passports”, some heads of UK firms are predicting disagreements within the workforce if some staff refuse to get the vaccine against the coronavirus.
The CMI poll found that half of the leaders questioned were concerned about how to manage any potential workplace conflict between staff reluctant to get the Covid-19 vaccination, and colleagues feeling unsafe working with those employees.
A post-pandemic return to the office is likely to include some coronavirus testing. Three-fifth of managers (60%) surveyed reported that testing was, or would be, available for employees, although this is mostly expected to be optional.
Ann Francke, the CMI’s chief executive, said: “Managers in this pandemic have seen that they have the collective responsibility towards their colleagues to ensure their physical safety and their mental wellbeing, and to create conditions where they feel safe coming to work. If you have a situation where someone cannot be vaccinated for an important reason there should alternatives available, for example hybrid working”
Francke said that many of the companies surveyed intend to ask staff to split their time between home and the workplace following the pandemic. “Covid secure offices are another solution, and frequent testing is yet another solution. All of these things work together to create an environment where people feel safe being in their workplace.”
At the start of the year, Pimlico Plumbers became one of the first firms in Britain to announce that it would have a “no jab, no job” policy and require all of its workers to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Employment lawyers have questioned whether work contracts that included a vaccine requirement for staff would be legally enforceable.
The government guidance for employees to work from home where possible remains in place. However the majority of companies are expected to embrace flexible working even after coronavirus restrictions ease.
Of the managers surveyed by CMI 61% said they expected staff in their organisation to visit their usual workplace between one and four days a week in future, with the other days spent working remotely.
Only one in five leaders said that they wanted their employees to spend five days a week in the workplace.
Despite this, companies are split over whether they will shrink their office footprint following the pandemic, with 46% expecting to reduce space in the main headquarters, while 45% said that such a move was unlikely.