New study reveals 1 in 4 employers are not giving staff paid time off to get COVID vaccinations

New research by Acas has found that a quarter of British employers have not been giving their staff paid time off for coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccinations and have no plans to allow it.

Acas commissioned YouGov to ask businesses in Britain about whether they would be giving staff paid time for COVID-19 vaccination appointments.

The poll found that:

  • 6 out of 10 (59%) have been giving staff paid time off
  • 4% have not been doing it but plan to in the future
  • 18% did not know

Acas advice is that employers should support staff to get the vaccine once it is offered to them. This support could include ensuring employees have paid time off for COVID-19 vaccine reasons.

Susan Clews, Acas Chief Executive, said:

"The vaccine rollout programme has gone well and our survey reveals that most employers have allowed staff paid time off to get the jab but a quarter have not.

"Our study also reveals that a similar number of bosses have not paid full company sick pay to staff who have been unable to work due to side effects from the vaccine.

"It's in businesses best interests to have a vaccine policy that supports staff to take time off as fully vaccinated workers are less likely to need longer periods of time off work to recover from COVID-19."

The poll also asked businesses about whether they would be paying full company sick pay to staff who are off sick with COVID-19 vaccine side effects.

It found that:

  • a quarter (26%) had not been paying full company sick pay and had no plans to change
  • half (50%) were already paying full sick pay
  • 6% have not been doing it but plan to in the future
  • 12% did not know

To support staff to get the vaccine, Acas advice is that employers may want to consider paid time off for vaccination appointments and paying staff their usual rate of pay if they are off sick with vaccine side effects.

Some organisations may have a review or 'trigger' point to keep track of sickness absence for their staff. Acas advice is that employers could consider not counting vaccine-related time off sick as part of this absence record system.

See Acas's full advice on getting the coronavirus vaccine

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Background notes

1. Acas commissioned YouGov to poll senior decision makers in a representative sample of British businesses. The survey was carried out online and the total sample size was 2,030 adults. Fieldwork was carried out between 15 and 28 June 2021. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc and have been weighted and are representative of British business size.

2. Participants were asked: "has or will your organisation be doing any of the following?":

On giving staff paid time off for COVID vaccinations:

  • 59% said yes, we have been doing this
  • 4% said no, but we plan to implement this in the near future
  • 25% said no, we have not been doing this and we do not plan to
  • 12% said do not know

On paying staff full company sick pay if they are off sick with COVID vaccine side effects:

  • 50% said yes, we have been doing this
  • 6% said no, but we plan to implement this in the near future
  • 26% said no, we have not been doing this and we do not plan to
  • 18% said do not know