PUBLIC health leaders have made a direct plea to York businesses to do more to help control the spread of the virus by supporting the vaccination rollout.

Employers are being urged to give staff paid time off work for their appointment, or allow them to work flexibly so they can get vaccinated without losing pay.

The plea comes after some residents revealed that not being able to take paid time off was a major barrier to them having their jab as they cannot afford to have their wages cut.

The request was made in a joint letter to employers, signed by Sharon Stoltz, director of public health at City of York Council; Dr Nigel Wells, clinical chair at the Vale of York CCG, and Dr James Taylor, York Hospital's medical director.

Thanking employers for their efforts so far to help keep workers safe during the pandemic and to help stop the spread of coronavirus, they wrote: "Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on so many lives and livelihoods and we acknowledge how difficult this past year has been for businesses."

They then ask employers 'to do more' by supporting the vaccination programme. "As well as this being the right thing to do to support the safe re-opening of the city, there is good evidence to suggest that it makes good economic sense too. A vaccinated workforce will significantly reduce levels of sickness and improve productivity and is, therefore, good for business.

"The vaccines being used in the UK are safe and effective and are already having a significant impact in helping to stop the spread of the virus, reducing the number of infections and hospital admissions and saving lives.

York Press:

"Please do everything you can to support your workforce to be able to attend a vaccination appointment by giving them paid time off work for their appointment or by allowing them to work their hours flexibly so they can get their vaccination without loss of wages.

"We have been contacted by a number of residents who have explained that not being able to take paid time off work is a major barrier to them being vaccinated since they cannot afford to lose pay.

"We are aware that some employers are already going the extra mile to support their staff but for those employers who have not yet done so we respectfully urge you to review your policies and make any changes necessary to be able to support all of your staff to have easy access to vaccination without the risk of losing out financially."

The time required to attend a vaccination appointment is equivalent to half a day off work (two hours per dose).

To discuss what support may be available for businesses, contact, addressing it to the Director of Public Health.