Can employers make having had a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination a condition of employment for new recruits?
Unless there are compelling reasons for requiring employees to be vaccinated, as identified by a risk assessment relating to the particular work, employers should avoid making vaccination a compulsory requirement for new recruits. A "no jab, no job" policy could give rise to unlawful discrimination, for example on grounds of disability or age.
Many of the same issues apply to a mandatory vaccination policy for new recruits as for existing employees (see Can an employer require employees to have a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination?). In terms of potential legal claims, requiring new employees to have had a vaccination would be less risky than imposing such a requirement on existing employees, as job candidates will not be able to claim unfair dismissal and the employer will not need to obtain their agreement to a contractual change. However, job candidates can bring discrimination claims (provided that they have a relevant protected characteristic).
Employers should consider encouraging new recruits to take up a vaccination, when available, if they have not already done so. But they should be prepared to take individual circumstances into account, rather than applying a blanket "no jab, no job" policy.
From 11 November 2021, it is a legal requirement for anyone working indoors in a care home in England to have had two doses of the vaccine (unless they have a medical exemption). This requirement is due to be extended to all health and social care staff in England who have direct, face-to-face contact with patients/service users from 1 April 2022. Employers covered by the requirement will be able to rely on this to make job offers conditional on being vaccinated.