(Adds comments on returning to offices)
LONDON, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Unilever is strongly encouraging its employees to get vaccinated against the coronavirus as soon as possible, its chief executive officer told Reuters on Wednesday.
“We are strongly encouraging people to get a vaccine as soon as it is available to them,” CEO Alan Jope said in an interview at the Reuters Next conference. “We want to make sure that vaccine hesitancy is not alive and well in Unilever.”
Jope, whose company is one of Britain’s biggest, said that the maker of Dove soap, Lipton tea and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream would do what it can to make vaccines available to its workers, but “in a very principled way”.
“I don’t want any of my employees to be jumping the queue on frontline medical workers or vulnerable people,” he said.
For employees who decline the vaccine, rapid testing could be used to keep workplaces safe.
“We will not be mandating vaccines for anyone. We don’t believe that is right,” he said.
Unilever’s office workers will be largely working from home during the current first quarter and then moving to a hybrid model where workers split their time between the office and home.
“We anticipate never going back to five days a week in the office, that seems very old-fashioned now,” Jope said.
Unilever is testing a four-day work week this year in New Zealand.
For more coverage from the Reuters Next conference please click here or www.reuters.com/business/reuters-next
To watch Reuters Next live, visit here (Additional reporting by Keith Weir in London and Siddharth Cavale in Bengaluru, Editing by Nick Zieminski)