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Covid-19 Vaccination – FAQs for Employers

Coronavirus (Covid-19) Vaccination – FAQs for Employers


Employers continue to face a range of complex employment law issues as the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine continues. These Coronavirus (COVID-19) Vaccination – FAQs for Employers cover many of the legal issues that employers may face in this connection.

On 24 February 2022, the government moved to a new phase of its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, when it announced the end of mandatory self-isolation and free testing. Please see the ‘Living with COVID-19 – Guidance Notes’ for more information.

As far as reasonably practicable, employers have a duty to ensure the health and safety at work of their employees. Asking employees to agree to a vaccination against coronavirus (COVID-19) is likely to be a reasonable step to take to reduce the risk to employees' health. However, vaccination requires an individual’s informed and voluntary consent and so an employer cannot compel an employee to be vaccinated if they do not wish to be so. The exception to this is workers in care homes registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) (and anyone entering a care home) who, with effect from 11 November 2021, must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 unless exempt.

The government initially advised that all staff in patient-facing or service user-facing roles in a healthcare or social care setting in England would also have fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by 1 April 2022. However, on 31 January 2022, the government announced a consultation on the intention to revoke this policy.

Employers might decide to require all new employees to have the COVID-19 vaccination. Should an employer take this approach they must ensure that they do not inadvertently discriminate against individuals on the grounds of protected characteristics under the Equality Act. Employees may refuse the COVID-19 vaccination on medical grounds. Employees may also refuse to be vaccinated on the basis of their religious beliefs. Employers will have to deal with each case on its merits and listen carefully to an employee’s reasons for refusing vaccination.

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