The mass vaccination programme will provide a pathway out of this pandemic, and the evidence so far is all very positive. Numbers of hospital admissions are falling along with the rate of infections; and the government has provided a plan (‘roadmap’) for us to work towards. This will bring an end to the lockdown and all social distancing and other restrictions.
Discussions are already taking place over whether or not employees can be forced to have the Covid 19 vaccination by their employer. The consensus at the moment seems to be : ‘No. Your employer cannot force anyone to have an injection’.
This is based on the fact that those who may have allergies, are pregnant, or have a fundamental belief that vaccinations are unhelpful/harmful, or other similar views or issues; may be discriminated against. Unless your business requires an employee to travel overseas or if you provide services in the care sector then there is possibly not much of an argument that your employees ‘must’ have the vaccination. Therefore a ‘no jab, no job’ approach during recruitment may be risky to most employers.
It is helpful for businesses to have a policy in place for all existing employees to access regarding Covid19 vaccinations. This policy should cover the employer’s position in supporting staff who will have the vaccination. This is for several reasons:
- The employee can see that they will be able to take time off work at short notice if they need to, in order to attend their vaccination appointment
- The employee will know that their employer will pay them if they need to take time off work to attend their vaccination appointment. The employer does not have to pay them but any employer wishing to support their staff should do so if at all possible
- Employers have a general duty under Health and Safety legislation to put measures in place to protect the Health and Safety of their employees, and supporting other members of staff in having their Covid 19 vaccinations demonstrates compliance to that principle
- Pro-vaccination supporters can see that the Company is supporting the general principle of encouraging staff to attend for their vaccinations.
Those who are unable, or do not wish, to be vaccinated can see that there is no plan to change their job role or suffer any detriment if that do not take up the vaccination.
The policy should be written to encourage the employee to attend their appointment but not force them.
The employee can also see that the Company has considered its obligations under the GDPR in holding details of whether or not they have had the Covid 19 vaccination. Remember that any medical data is classed as ‘special category data’ by the Information Commissioner and should be subject to more extensive confidentiality and processing. Keeping that data separate from other personal data and ensuring that only those with a need to know can access it, would help an employer comply with the rules. An employer would of course not share the names of those who have or have not been vaccinated with the workforce, but it might be useful to be able to confirm how many people in terms of a % have had the jab if asked.
If you would like to discuss a the policy in more detail then please do not hesitate to let me know on 07788 994164 / firstname.lastname@example.org