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The Telegraph

Four reasons you might need a vaccine passport when you return to the office

The debate around vaccine passports has already proven one of the most fierce of the whole Covid-19 pandemic. While most people accepted lockdown and social distancing, grudgingly or otherwise, the idea that people could be denied goods and services if they fail to prove they’ve been vaccinated has rankled with many. In theory the idea is a sound one, if a venue is only admitting people who have been vaccinated and thus aren’t at risk of catching the virus then it might be able to dispense with social distancing and other restrictions more quickly. In the context of foreign travelers, for instance, a vaccine passport might help ensure new variants of Covid aren’t brought to the UK. For businesses such as smaller restaurants, pubs, theatres, or sport arenas which are simply not economical to open with social distancing reducing the takings, the idea of going back to normal with the assurance that they can avoid transmission might sound tempting. The trouble is that using vaccine passports in some venues opens up pitfalls elsewhere. Just as it might be unviable to open a small restaurant at reduced capacity thanks to social distancing, it might be equally unviable for a small office to bring the majority staff back with social distancing in place. Could those offices introduce vaccine passports to get themselves back on track sooner? On the horizon These are questions which the government will seek to answer in a report due on 21 June. But some believe office vaccine passports are a strong possibility. “I think it’s on the horizon,” says Anil Champaneri, a senior HR consultant at Alcumus, a company which specialises in corporate compliance and risk management. “The fact they’re trialling it at large events suggests they’re going down that route. I think it is something that may come up, it looks like it may happen, but it’s too early to say for definite.” Certainly some businesses are already taking that stance, certain care homes are mandating that staff be vaccinated if they are caring for vulnerable patients, while Pimlico Plumbers has also announced it is considering a ‘no jab, no job’ policy. Cabinet is said to be split over whether current health and safety law could be used to force employees to produce proof of vaccination under the auspices of protecting themselves and colleagues which current duty of care laws oblige them to. One significant problem is that employers mandating vaccine certification risk disenfranchising younger workers, who may not have had the opportunity to get their vaccine until late July. The very demographic who have suffered most in working from home, according to research, might end up being the last ones allowed to return to the office. Legal hurdles Equally, for those who have a valid reason not to be vaccinated such as pregnant women and those with pre-existing health conditions risk being discriminated against by any such policy. “There are going to be some legal hurdles for employers from a HR point of view,” says Champaneri. “We would hope that if certification requirements were introduced there’d be clear guidance from the government about how it’d happen.”

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