The COVID-19 vaccine is not mandatory. Individuals can choose when they take the offer of a vaccine or not.
The fear is forcing individuals to have the vaccine will result in claims of discrimination in the courts. Popular claims we feel will be in the areas of:
- Disability discrimination
Government has had to introduce legislation to make it mandatory for care home staff to be vaccinated and that law takes effect from 11th November 2021. Expect to see headlines when care home employees who are unvaccinated are dismissed in November. This will be dismissal for a statutory reason as they are not allowed to be employed in a care home if they are not vaccinated.
So “no jab, no job” is a catchy phrase but it’s true to say that employers’ will not be able to impose this rule on staff without there being an objective justification. This requires the employer to show that such a course of action is a “proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.” Language beloved of the lawyers and likely very costly to define what it means. We are still working out whether avoiding a shutdown due to self isolating staff would be an objective justification. Watch this space!
So, what else can you do?
Well in the meantime you can encourage staff to get vaccinated. Vaccinated people are far less likely to get COVID-19 with symptoms. They are even more unlikely to get serious COVID-19, or be admitted to hospital, or to die from it. Public Health England (PHE) provide an employers’ communication toolkit. This can be used to inform, and give practical information on the vaccines and how to get vaccinated.
While there is no right in law for an employee to have time off for medical appointments, many employers do make adjustments for employees to attend such appointments. So why not for those who need to attend to get a jab? However with the prevalence of drop in jab clinics where no appointment is necessary this is less likely to be an issue.
Some employees may experience mild side effects after the vaccine, such as headache or feeling sick. If an employee is so unwell that they are unable to work, then they would be entitled to sick leave. ACAS guidance recommends paying full pay in these circumstances if at all possible.
If you have any questions about vaccines, please do not hesitate to give us a call on 01527 909436.