Vegans would be exempt from compulsory workplace Covid vaccinations and employers risk legal action if they insist workers are double-jabbed, experts say.
An estimated half a million Britons who do not consume animal products would not have to adhere to so-called “jabs for jobs” rules under employment laws, it has been claimed.
Big firms, including Netflix and Google, have already told many US staff they must be vaccinated before returning to work and Foreign secretary Dominic Raab said on Thursday that the rule was “smart policy”.
While the UK Government has introduced legislation stating care home staff must be jabbed.
The Covid vaccine does not contain animal products, but all medications currently go through animal testing.
Ethical veganism was ruled to be a protected characteristic at a tribunal last year.
It means any employers would risk legal action if they order staff to be vaccinated.
A spokesman for Lewis Silkin, a law firm, told the Telegraph: “Some ethical vegans may disagree with vaccinations on the basis that they will inevitably have been tested on animals.
“Ethical veganism has previously been found to amount to a belief, capable of being protected.”
The protections mean that vegans and people in other categories, including some religious groups as well as those with certain disabilities or medical conditions, could mount a claim of constructive dismissal if forced to get the jab.
It comes as the Government faces challenges over making the jab mandatory and the introduction of “vaccine passports”, which it has been claimed could help prevent further lockdowns.
The Vegan Society has encouraged people to the Covid jab.
“It has never been more important for us to talk about the definition of veganism in the context of medications, including vaccines,” a spokesman said.
“The definition of veganism recognises that it is not always possible or practicable for vegans to avoid participating in animal use, which is particularly relevant to medical situations.
“In the case of Covid-19, vaccination will play a fundamental role in tackling the pandemic and saving lives. As there is currently a legal requirement that all vaccines are tested on animals, at this point in time it is impossible to have a vaccine that has been created without animal use.”
Clare Chappell, an associate solicitor at Peacock & Co, said: “Somebody at some point who is an anti-vaxxer is going to bring a claim that an anti-vax belief is a philosophical belief.
“I think it’s going to throw a lot of interesting developments into discrimination law over the coming months and years.”