Businesses, employers and industry bodies across the UK have come together to support the COVID-19 vaccination programme and encourage their staff to get a jab when eligible.
So far, nine of the UK’s biggest national employers have pledged their support in promoting positive vaccination messages and encouraging their 240,000 employees to get the vaccine – including during working hours – to ensure workplaces are safe and staff can play their part in the UK’s biggest ever vaccination programme.
IKEA, Asda, Slimming World, Metro Bank, Procter & Gamble UK, Santander, Nationwide, Severn Trent and Merlin Entertainments are among the many businesses that have maintained extensive safety measures to protect staff throughout the pandemic. Now, to help encourage and maintain high vaccine uptake among their employees, they have pledged to promote positive safety messages and signpost staff to NHS-verified advice on vaccines.
Industry bodies, such as the British Beer and Pub Association and Builders Merchants Federation – whose members supply the UK’s vital construction industry – have also thrown their weight behind the coalition in a bid to encourage their partners to get involved, totalling over a million people.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Our vaccination programme has so far saved thousands of lives, protecting our loved ones and bringing down infection rates to a point where we can see normality on the horizon. It’s fantastic that employers are prioritising the safety of their staff and doing all they can to encourage people to get vaccinated. I urge everyone to get their vaccines when they get the call so we can beat this pandemic together.”
With more than 54 million vaccines administered so far, people aged 38 and over are now eligible to get their COVID-19 vaccine.
Organisations have pledged to be as flexible as possible when it comes to staff getting the vaccine. Many companies, including IKEA, have also committed to giving paid time off work for employees, in addition to providing sick pay as standard for the minority who experience minor side effects like fever or a headache.
Employers will also use resources from the new national government campaign to run an internal awareness campaign consisting of key messages, vaccine fact sheets, informative question and answer videos, posters and many more resources to ensure their employees get access to reliable and accurate information about the COVID-19 vaccine.
The government is calling on all UK organisations to join the campaign by introducing similar internal awareness campaigns to promote the benefits of vaccination.
Peter Jelkeby, Country Retail Manager and Chief Sustainability Officer, IKEA UK and Ireland said: “The vaccine roll-out is an exciting milestone, enabling an eventual return to the togetherness we need and crave. In supporting our co-workers to get vaccinated, our return to normality, to our customers, and most importantly to our loved ones, is a step closer. And for that opportunity we’re incredibly grateful.”
Dominic Wigley, Merlin’s Group Safety, Engineering and Security Director, said: “‘We Care’ is one of Merlin’s core values, and as part of our role as a supportive employer we want to care for and support our employees, their families and the communities in which we have our attractions throughout this global pandemic. As our fight against COVID-19 continues, we are encouraging employees to do all they can to keep safe including maintain social distancing, wearing face coverings in appropriate areas (unless medically exempt), and applying high standards of personal hygiene, as well as encouraging all employees to give careful consideration to having the COVID-19 vaccine when invited to do so. By being vaccinated, employees are taking positive action to help protect their own health, and in doing so benefiting the communities in which they live, work and deliver memorable moments, and we will do everything we can to help support them in that.”
Carol Frost, Chief People Officer at Metro Bank, said: “The vaccine roll-out is crucial to the health and wellbeing both of the nation and the economy, bringing with it hope for a return to normality. We are fully behind the vaccination programme and have encouraged colleagues to get vaccinated in line with government advice, giving them time off, if needed, to get their jabs.”
Jane Hanson, Chief People Officer, Nationwide, said: “The safety and well-being of our colleagues and members has been our number one priority throughout the pandemic and will continue to be so as lockdown continues to ease. The vaccine programme is one of the most ambitious and vital ever undertaken in this country and it is important for employers like ours to support in whatever way we can. That includes offering complete flexibility to all colleagues getting the vaccine. They can take paid time off during work hours to do so, as is the case for any medical appointment. This is an incredibly important time for the nation and we need to be as flexible as we can.”
Elaine Thomas, Chief HR Officer at Santander, said: “We are proud to be playing our part in this essential vaccination campaign to ensure our colleagues can elect to receive their jab during working time. There has been a tremendous effort over the last year to keep each other and our customers as safe as possible, and we would like to pay tribute to the countless volunteers – including our own staff – who are supporting the vaccination programme across communities.”