We’ve already had two calls this week asking us “Can I make my employees have a COVID vaccine?” The short answer to this is “No”. It’s also unlikely to be fair to discipline or dismiss an employee because they don’t want to be vaccinated. It would be highly unusual for any employer to force an employee to undergo a medical procedure (which is what being vaccinated amounts to). Consider also, that some employees may be unable to have the vaccine.
Employers do have a duty of care to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees and anyone visiting or affected by their business. If your risk assessment establishes that being vaccinated reduces the risk of contracting the virus, it’s reasonable to ask employees to get vaccinated. But, you can’t make employees have a COVID vaccine.
Do your employees need to tell you that they’ve had a vaccination?
No, they don’t. Health data is sensitive personal information. If you record that employees have been vaccinated, make sure that you collect the minimum information. Maybe restricting this to simply, have they had the vaccine, yes or no.
Considering adding COVID vaccination as a contractual clause?
Take care. Enforcing this change, if you don’t already have vaccination clauses in your contracts, potentially moves you into constructive dismissal territory. Some sectors already require employees to have vaccinations such as hepatitis vaccinations. If your work means that your employees are more likely to be infected by the COVID virus consult with them about adding this requirement. Be mindful of considerations set out above. Such a move might prevent people working for you.
What can employers do to encourage vaccination?
Getting vaccinated or not is a very personal choice. A recent YouGov Poll suggested that up to a third of people were uncertain or wouldn’t get the COVID vaccine. Without a Government imposition of mandatory immunisation, herd immunity is going to take longer for the country, and workplaces, to get back to anything like normality the fewer people there are who are vaccinated. We can’t force employees to be vaccinated so what can we do to encourage people to be vaccinated? Not a lot in reality.
People tend to form their personal views on things like vaccination from a more than just information from the workplace.
There’s little research on barriers to immunisation in adults. Much of the academic study is about parents immunising, or not immunising, children.
A report by the Royal Society of Public Health found that accessibility and convenience of vaccination services was a significant factor in determining whether people attended for vaccinations. Giving people paid time off during working hours to get vaccinated reduces the chances of the employee cancelling and not rescheduling their vaccination appointment.
If you want to ask us the question “Can I make my employees have a COVID vaccine?”, call us on 01706 565332 or use the contact form. We’re happy to speak to you in confidence.