‘On thin ice’: Ansell boss says forcing vaccines unwise

Protective equipment maker Ansell’s outgoing boss, Magnus Nicolin, says employers shouldn’t force workers to get the COVID jab and instead use incentives to encourage their uptake of available vaccines.

Mr Nicolin, who is stepping down as chief executive of Ansell after an 11-year stint, said Australia has no choice but accelerate coronavirus vaccinations but making vaccination compulsory was a step too far.

“I think you can recommend, and you can convince, and you can sell hard – but to try to force somebody, I just have a hard time with,” he said.

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Ansell has warned that COVID-related supply and logistics issues could impact on its operations this December half.

“I think you’re on thin ice when you start to force people to do things. I’m all for incentives for exercising the right behaviour – [but] in my mind, that’s totally different from forcing.”

Large employers including SPC and Qantas have been among the first Australian businesses to make vaccines compulsory for staff. Qantas made its decision after a survey of its 22,000 employees backed the idea of a vaccine mandate.

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Mr Nicolin acknowledged that Australia must work faster to increase its overall vaccination rates, and also be prepared for the challenge of convincing the vaccine hesitant to get doses.

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“I think vaccines are the most important ingredient to getting through this,” he said.

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Ansell has seen a sales boom due to pandemic conditions over the past 18 months. On Tuesday, the company reported a 48.5 per cent jump in net profits to $264.7 million and delivered a final dividend of 43.6 US cents.

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