A recent poll of 1000 private sector employers conducted by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) reveals that only 45% of firms are offering workers paid leave to attend their COVID-19 vaccination appointments. 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. These employees are likely to have public facing duties and may find it otherwise difficult to arrange time for vaccination slots as pubs, shops and restaurants prepare to reopen from mid-April.
These are difficult economic times, with many sectors having been hit hard by the third (and hopefully final) lockdown. In the circumstances, employers’ reluctance to offer paid time off can, perhaps, be understood. However, the wider public health benefits vaccination offers society at large mean that, where possible, we should all take steps to facilitate the process. In the case of some employees, it may be that existing policies entitle them to paid time off (as they would do for other medical appointments). Where this is not the case, there are strong employee relations and PR reasons for considering making an exception to the rule, particularly for lower paid or hourly paid employees for whom the loss of income may act as a deterrent to vaccination.