Youth Council urges employers not to create barriers for workers wishing to get vaccinated

THE NATIONAL YOUTH Council of Ireland called on employers to give young workers time to get vaccinated during working hours.

It comes after a number of employees claimed they had been paid dockside or asked to ‘pay off’ for the time it took to get their Covid-19 vaccine during a shift.

This despite repeated messages from the government and the NPHET asking employers to facilitate the participation of workers in their appointment for the Covid-19 vaccine.

More than 70% of the adult population is fully vaccinated, and an additional 15% have received one of the two doses. The rollout has expanded to 16 and 17 year olds, but is also slated to open to teens 12 to 15 years old next month.

Ireland is currently vaccinating people at one of the fastest rates in the world. The government aims to give the vaccine to the largest cohort of people possible, in order to give the population as a whole the greatest protection against Covid-19.

But vaccination rates among younger cohorts of any population are generally lower than those of others. As a result, the government has taken additional steps to increase adoption rates among young people, including partnering with dating apps.

One of the young retail workers who spoke to The newspaper said that not being paid to attend immunization appointments and being offered extra shifts instead “definitely prevented colleagues from showing up for their appointments.”

The employees most affected appear to be the low-paid people and tend to either have a low weekly wage or an hourly rate of pay. A large number of young people are part of this cohort of workers.

James Doorley, deputy director of NYCI, said in a statement to The newspaper:

“We support calls for employers to give young workers time off to get vaccinated during working hours.

These companies, many of which received state support during the pandemic, should act in the public interest. Amid this pandemic, they should actively support young workers to get vaccinated – and not put obstacles in their way by unreasonably lowering wages and asking staff to take annual leave.

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Doorley added: “Most of these procedures are quick, usually around 30 minutes in the vaccination center and a maximum of 1 to 2 hours when travel is included.

“In addition, it is in the best interests of young people, especially those in frontline positions such as retail and hospitality, to get the vaccine.

“It is also in the interests of clients and of society as a whole that we support immunization so that we can return to a certain level of normality.”

Tánaiste and Enterprise Minister Leo Varadkar previously said employers should “have a heart, basically” when asked if pay is withheld for attending vaccination appointments during work shifts.

It should be possible to organize shifts and working time around appointments, but where this is not possible, especially when appointments are short-term, employers should be flexible.

“It is in everyone’s interest that staff and staff in direct contact with clients receive special immunizations. This will help us ensure that businesses stay open during the Delta Wave and any future wave of infection. “