After the gruelling year we have all had from constant lockdowns, furloughs, online teaching and tier systems, the battle against coronavirus is starting to change. Last week 90-year-old Margaret Keen was the first person in the world to receive Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine. The grandmother told the press it was the best early birthday present she could’ve asked for, and after nearly a year of living on her own, Margaret is looking forward to visiting her family soon.
So, what does this mean for the rest of us? When will life return to normal? When will others receive the vaccine? These are a couple of questions on people’s minds at the moment, however, it is still too early to tell.
So far, the UK has 800,00 doses of the vaccine with 4 million more expected to land by the end of the month. Experts predict things should start to go back to normal after Easter, with Christmas 2021 being the target for all the coronavirus madness to be a thing of the past.
What does this mean for businesses?
Here comes the complicated part. In a survey conducted by Kantar, only 75% of people said they would get the vaccine. Businesses now face an ethical dilemma as will they opt to make the vaccination mandatory for workers to come back into the office? More so, if someone is adamantly against the vaccine and requests to continue to work from home, what should their policies be? Will this affect the workplace dynamic?
Currently, no vaccinations are mandatory in the UK due to human rights laws. Lawyers predict that employers could make it a blanket requirement at their company. If employees are coming into contact with a lot of people, let’s use retail or hospitality workers as an example, it would be in the employees’ and customers best interest that the employees are all vaccinated. In doing so, the business can use this as marketing to reassure customers their workers are not carrying the virus. But (there is always a but) in doing so businesses may risk receiving claims of discrimination, especially from people with disabilities or religious beliefs. Additionally, as many fear the vaccine has not been thoroughly tested, if there are any issues with the vaccine and employees have felt forced into receiving it, businesses could have massive lawsuits on their hands.
Just like the rest of this year, the vaccine for Covid-19, although the first step in the road to recovery, poses a whole new wave of “what if” and “how” questions for businesses.