Coronavirus (Covid-19) Vaccination – FAQs for Employers
Employers are facing 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. The briefing note has been updated to take account of changes to the advice around the coronavirus vaccine.
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. In addition, from 1 April 2022, the requirement to be vaccinated will also be introduced for health and social care workers in England whom an employer "may employ or otherwise engage" for the purposes of the provision of CQC-regulated activities: https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/wp-content/uploads/sites/52/2022/01/C1545-update-vcod-for-healthcare-workers-phase-2-implementation.pdf
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.
These Coronavirus (COVID-19) Vaccination – FAQs cover the following areas:
1. Can an employer require employees to have a COVID-19 vaccine?
2. Do employees have to let their employer know if they are getting a COVID-19 vaccine?
3. Can employers require all new employees to have the COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment?
4. Can an employer take disciplinary action against an employee for refusing to have the coronavirus vaccine?
5. What can an employer do when employees refuse the coronavirus vaccination on medical advice?
6. Can pregnant or breastfeeding employees refuse the coronavirus vaccination?
7. What is the position on employees who refuse vaccination because of their religion or belief?
Further information on employment issues and the COVID-19 vaccination can be found on the ACAS website: https://www.acas.org.uk/working-safely-coronavirus/getting-the-coronavirus-vaccine-for-work.
General advice on the coronavirus vaccination can be accessed on the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/coronavirus-vaccine/.