The aim of the vaccine roll out is to be able to control the virus and ease restrictions, and this clearly has economic implications for businesses of all sizes. Employers are particularly keen to safeguard their staff and keep workplaces safe. This is especially important for businesses operating in the care sector.
Pimlico plumbers have been in the news for stating that they will require new hires to prove that they have taken the vaccine and deal with employees on a case-by-case basis where they do not have the vaccination.
The key question is, what can employers do to ensure that they protect their staff, their customers, and the public? And can they require employees to get a vaccine?
Some guidance is available from Acas, its view is that in some situations disciplinary action may be appropriate where someone refuses to get the vaccine.
However, we would urge caution before enforcing any requirement for the vaccine. There are likely to be discrimination issues – particularly disability and religious discrimination but also sex discrimination on grounds that some women may be reluctant to get it when considering planning a family. If an employer feels very strongly that a vaccine is required for an employee to carry on doing their job, they should deal with this on a case-by-case basis and disciplinary action or dismissal should be a last resort.
For employers wanting to encourage and promote the Covid vaccine, they should consider the following:
This is likely to be an area of great contention between employers and employees, and case law is inevitable. Employers should take full advice before implementing any requirement for an employee to have the vaccine and be cautious about making blanket policies which could result in discrimination claims.
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