In a recent interview with City A.M Pimlico Plumbers founder Charlie Mullins has said that the company is seeking to insert into its workforce’s employment contracts a requirement for employees to have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19; a so-called “no jab, no job” policy. While this proposal might be a practical and fast way of making the company’s workforce ‘Covid-safe’, it is not without risk for an employer.

Insisting on a vaccination or inserting such a provision into an existing employment contract without the implied or express agreement of an employee could entitle them to treat it as a fundamental breach and resign to claim constructive dismissal, or constructive unfair dismissal if the employee has at least two years’ service. This option would not however be open to workers or self-employed contractors.

Even inserting a clause of this kind into the contracts of new recruits could come with difficulties. There are several legitimate reasons why an individual might refuse a vaccine; they might be pregnant or breastfeeding, they might have a disability or allergy which could make the vaccine harmful to them. Indeed, a vegan might object on ethical grounds given that both Pfizer and Modena employed animal testing in the development of their respective vaccines. In those circumstances, dismissing someone who says no to the vaccine (or rejecting them for employment in the first place) could give rise to an indirect discrimination claim.

In the past Mr Mullins has shown a willingness to litigate employment matters all the way to the Supreme Court; if he decides to pursue this course of action and there is resistance from his workforce then we may see a definitive ruling on this issue in the coming years.