No Jab, No Job – asking for covid vaccinated actors in a casting
More and more casting calls these days are including the condition that the actor applying must have a full covid vaccination along with an EU Vaccine Certificate, an NHS Vaccine Pass, or an equivalent (i.e. a “covid passport”) to get the job.
But some people are asking, is this even legal? Is this discrimination? Can productions rule out a non-vaccinated actor when it comes to hiring?
This article looks into this issue.
But before reading on please note that what we’re saying here is not legal advice; we’re not international lawyers and this isn’t intended to be a substitute for legal advice and you shouldn’t take it as such.
Who are you?
A casting call for ‘vaccinated actors only’ may or may not be discriminatory against you depending on which group you belong to.
So which group are you in?
If you are already vaccinated
First off, you are awesome. Well done! By being vaccinated you are reducing the Covid problem and you are helping save the lives of those who for reasons outside their own control cannot get vaccinated.
What’s more, you can apply to any suitable job and jump on an aeroplane and fly across Europe to any destination for work (depending on a few restrictions but these will be gone sooner or later).
If you can’t get vaccinated
In general, job adverts are not allowed to discriminate against someone on medical grounds.
This means that if you are unfortunate enough to be in the very small minority of actors who for medical reasons are unable to get vaccinated (for example, if you are allergic to one of the vaccine ingredients) then you can’t be excluded from submitting for a job.
However, there are caveats. It might be argued that it is a necessity to be vaccinated in order to preserve the health and safety of the workplace so having an unvaccinated actor there could risk this.
But this hasn’t – as far as we know – been tested in law so we simply don’t know.
If you could get vaccinated but choose not to
In general, this is the problematic group when it comes to castings which ask for vaccinated-only actors. We’ll deal with this below.
Can a casting ask for vaccinated actors only?
This depends on a lot of things and the answer is possibly yes or possibly no so there’s no simple answer.
For example, asking an actor for a vaccine certificate may or may not be legal depending on where the job is, how the actor is classed, the type of scene, the location and and so on…
It is very complex and (again, as far as we know) since this hasn’t been tested in law there is no definitive answer.
Flying for work
This is the first, very practical, reason why a production may be able to specify that the actor needs to be vaccinated.
If the actor needs to fly to the location then they must be fully vaccinated with a Covid passport just to get on the aeroplane. This isn’t a requirement of the job, but of the airlines. So in this case it seems perfectly legal and reasonable to only accept submissions from a fully vaccinated actor.
If you need to fly, and are not vaccinated, then you cannot submit and there’s nothing more to be said.
Health & safety at work
The production has a duty to keep a safe workplace which – if they have vulnerable employees – may mean keeping unvaccinated actors away in case they bring Covid into the workplace which could, in a worst case scenario, result in the death of vulnerable employees.
In this case, whose rights take precedence? The employer does not want to risk the unvaccinated actor possibly causing the death of vulnerable actors or crew, so although the reasonable approach would be to not allow the unvaccinated actor to work, this has not been tested in court so we don’t know what might happen.
(A more pertinent question might be though, why would anyone risk the lives of others by not getting vaccinated if they could?)
The type of job being done
In many European countries certain jobs, by law, are allowed to restrict employment to vaccinated people only. These jobs generally involve work where there is a compelling reason to have vaccinated workers such as in care homes, in hospitals, etc.
Now film sets can’t really be classed as critical as this, but consider this: there is an intimate scene between two actors. Can the production insist that both actors are vaccinated? Can one actor legitimately refuse to take part because their scene partner will not prove whether they are vaccinated or not?
Again, this hasn’t been tested in law but it seems reasonable that this question should be asked and answered: Are you vaccinated? And then an individual can decide whether they continue with the scene or not if the answer is No.
The bottom line
Right now, nobody knows if it is discriminatory or not to only look at vaccinated actors for a job and until it is tested in law no one can say.
However, in our opinion, actors who refuse to get vaccinated for spurious scientific reasons are a major risk not only to themselves but to others as well and we would like to see them kept well away from the set in order to keep the film up and running and keep everyone who works there safe.
The film industry has been hard hit by Covid and when a few actors continue to remain unvaccinated and cause sets to close down, we all lose.
Having a vaccine is not dangerous. But not having a vaccine when you can is not only dangerous to yourself and others, but it is also incredibly selfish. Covid will only be gone and our industry will only return to normal when everyone who can, does their part.
We believe that unvaccinated actors who rely on vaccinated actors to make the workplace safe for them should not be allowed on set.