Firms could refuse to employ people who have not had a Covid-19 vaccination, say experts

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Three university professors have argued that "private businesses could refuse to employ or serve unvaccinated individuals" as part of efforts to to encourage the public to take action against the virus.
Employers should be allowed to turn down workers who have not had a Covid-19 vaccination, according to experts.

Firms who are concerned about liability issues, health and safety and a second outbreak of the virus may be allowed to force employees to get vaccinated once it's available to the public, scientists say.


Three Case Western University professors in the US claim that the public should be compelled to get vaccinated, saying one option is that "private businesses could refuse to employ or serve unvaccinated individuals."

They claim objections linked to religious or personal beliefs could be ruled out to help contain the deadly virus.

"It’s very much in keeping with an employer's responsibility for maintaining the health and wellbeing of its workers to require it," Denise Rousseau, professor of organisational behaviour and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz College told USA Today

Dorit Reiss, a law professor at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, and an expert on vaccine requirements, said she expects certain employers to require the vaccine – potentially including organisations with at-risk workers, such as meat-processing plants and hospitals.


"Legally every employer can require it – you don't have to be a high-risk employer to require it," she said.

"On one hand, employers will be concerned about pushback from employees. On the other hand, they’ll also be concerned about Covid-19 outbreaks that can be prevented."

But some vaccine proponents say that requiring workers to get immunised could be counterproductive.

"Unfortunately when you go straight to a requirement for something, even though you think it’s wonderful, that just does not go over well with a lot of people," said Kelly Moore, associate director for immunisation education for the pro-vaccine Immunisation Action Coalition.

She said companies shouldn't rush once a Covid-19 vaccine is released as it's important for employers to follow the guidance of public health professionals as they monitor the impacts and performance of the inoculation.

"The first thing we do with a new vaccine is educate people about it, answer their questions, monitor how it’s accepted and how it works," she said.

"Companies who are trying to do a good thing for their employees will look around and say, 'What does public health recommend?’ And at this stage a requirement for these vaccines would not be recommended."

Instead of requiring vaccination as a condition of employment, employers could also make it a legal requirement for those working from the office or offer to pay for all employees to get virus protection.
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