Can I Make The Covid-19 Vaccination Mandatory For My Staff?
Timms Employment Solicitor, Emma Spandrzyk, discusses whether your business can enforce a mandatory vaccination policy and considers the consequences of doing so….
Can I Force My Staff To Get Vaccinated?
By implementing the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021, the Government has mandated that (subject to some limited exceptions) from 11 November 2021, anyone who works indoors in a Care Quality Commission (CQC) registered care home must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
From the 22 July 2021, a 16-week grace period began which allowed care homes to consult with staff with a view to preparing for mandatory vaccination. As two doses of the vaccine is required for optimum protection, any care home workers who are not yet vaccinated will need to receive their first dose by 16 September if they are to achieve full vaccinated status by the 11 November.
If you are a Care Quality Commission (CQC) registered care home and you have staff that are currently unvaccinated, you are encouraged to liaise with them immediately.
What If My Business Is Not A Care Quality Commission (CQC) Registered Care Home?
Although the vast majority of the population have received their vaccinations, there is still a significant number of adults who have not come forward for vaccination. With the exception of care homes, there is currently no legislation or body of law to rely on which can safely allow your business to compel staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
I Want My Staff To Get Vaccinated – What Can I Do?
The best approach will always be to support staff to get the vaccine without forcing the issue. If a staff member has reservations, then speak to that individual to try to understand their concerns.
It could help to discuss things like the Government’s latest vaccine health information, pay for time off related to the vaccine and whether anyone needs to be vaccinated to do their role.
To encourage staff to get the vaccine, employers might consider measures such as paid time off for vaccination appointments, paying staff their full rate of pay if they are off sick with vaccination side effects and not counting vaccine related absences towards any trigger system for absence management or redundancy scoring.
Engaging with staff in this way can help support the workforce, its customers and/or its clients to protect their health. Positive engagement will also help minimise any exposure to costly litigation risk moving forward.
What If My Staff Member Does Not Want To Be Vaccinated?
The best advice is always to listen to any concerns raised by your staff. They might have a legitimate reason for not having the vaccine such as health reasons (for example allergies to the vaccine compounds) or reasons which relate to their religious beliefs.
Sensitivity to personal situations is key. In the majority of cases listening to concerns and working through them positively will remove the barriers and help to allay any fears around the prospect of vaccination.
What Are The Potential Consequences Should I Mandate A Vaccine Policy?
Mandating compulsory vaccination is not without its challenges, not least as it is incompatible with the law around Human Rights. If an employee is dismissed for failure to obtain a vaccine, this could lead to a claim for unfair dismissal and potentially discrimination depending on the reason for the refusal.
In the media over the last week or two there has been a suggestion that complusory vaccination could be considered for those working in the Health sector. Whilst this has already been legislated for in relation to Care Quality Commission (CQC) registered care homes, it is worth noting that at the time of writing, a Judicial Review challenge is shortly to be launched against the Regulations. We eagerly await the outcome of this as it is likely to influence future positions on other sectors.
If you have any queries around the implication of staff vaccination or implementing a vaccination policy generally, please get in touch. Such matters are covered under the terms of our HUB subscription service.
For a free quote, please contact Emma Spandrzyk in our employment team. Emma can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 01530 564498.