Last reviewed 2 March 2021

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland QC has said it may be legal for companies to insist on new staff being vaccinated as a condition of their employment.

However, he said it was unlikely that managers could require existing workers have vaccines under their current contracts.

The Government has said it would be "discriminatory" to order people to be vaccinated to keep their job. But, in an interview with ITV on 22 February 2021, Robert Buckland said that compelling new staff to be inoculated could, in theory, be possible if it was written into their contracts. However, he said employers would probably need to take legal action if existing staff refused such an order. He told ITV that the legality of “no jab, no job” would depend “very much on the terms of employment and the particular contract”.

He added: “Generally speaking I'd be surprised if there were contracts of employment existing now that did make that approach lawful. I think frankly the issue would have to be tested.”

Care home operator Barchester Healthcare has already said all new staff will be obliged to get the vac-cine. Barchester Healthcare wrote on its website: "With regards to our staff, we are doing all we can to reassure and encourage those who are a little more reticent to have the vaccination, and we are also ensuring that all new staff must have the vaccination (if they medically can) before starting work looking after our vulnerable residents and patients who are in our care" .

Meanwhile, a survey of 194 care providers has revealed that 73% of respondents would like to make Covid-19 vaccination a condition of employment for new staff members. Conducted on 23 February at law firm Royds Withy King’s employment law webinar for care providers, the poll showed that this condition would include exceptions for staff who cannot have the vaccine on medical or other protected grounds.

While 53% of care providers have over 80% of their staff vaccinated, 20% said more than 40% of their workforce was unvaccinated. The poll revealed that, in the vast majority of cases, this was due to staff being either unwilling or unable to have the jab.

These results were reported by carehome.co.uk here.