Asking Employees to Receive the Covid-19 Vaccine
The roll out of the Covid-19 vaccine officially began today, 8 December 2020, and up to 4 million more vaccines are expected to be administered by the end of the month.
So what do employers need to know before requesting their teams receive the vaccination?
Is it compulsory?
It is not expected that the Government will make the vaccination compulsory in the UK. Although the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 enables prevention, control and mitigation of the spread of infection and contamination, it also protects people from being forced to undertake medical treatment and vaccinations.
Can an employee refuse?
A person may refuse the vaccine for a number of reasons such as; religion, beliefs including veganism (where the ingredients contain pork gelatine or where there has been testing on animals), disability, a detrimental impact to their mental health and other personal reasons.
Can it be enforced?
Employees can be encouraged to have the vaccination but it is likely an employer would not be able to enforce this.
Making the vaccination mandatory amongst the workforce and proposing penalties if they decline, such as dismissal or being told not to come to work, may leave the company open to discrimination claims. It is therefore important to consider whether there are reasonable alternatives to minimising the spread of the infection. These areas should be fully explored via a risk assessment.
Where employers are considering asking their teams to receive the vaccine, it is advised to undertake a thorough risk assessment to understand and evidence the need for this.
Other Covid-secure measures and reasonable alternatives, such as regular testing or working from home, should also be considered in the assessment where employees do not consent to receiving the vaccination.
It is essential to communicate the company’s stance on the vaccine internally with your teams. Engaging the workforce early, providing clear information and enabling them to ask questions will help them understand the reason for the request. Listening to concerns will also assist in coming to an agreement or identifying a reasonable alternative.
We will continue to provide updates as the scheme is rolled out and the government provide further guidance. This summary is for guidance purposes only. Each individual matter should be considered on its own merit and advice taken where needed. Contact us with your queries.