The discussion around whether or not employers can require employees to get a Covid-19 vaccination continues. In response to the noise surrounding the Covid-19 vaccination and workplaces, ACAS have issued specific guidance under their ‘working safely during coronavirus’ section. The guidance explicitly states that ‘there is no law that says people must have the vaccine, even if an employer would prefer someone to have it’. ACAS has provided guidance on how to support staff getting vaccinated, how to implement a requirement to be vaccinated, how to resolve workplace issues relating to the vaccine and how to deal with grievances or disciplinary action arising out of a refusal to get the vaccine. ACAS also suggests taking legal advice before implementing any vaccine policies. A link to the guidance can be found here.
While the position of most businesses is that they will ‘encourage’ employees to get the vaccination, and indeed, ACAS recommends employers ‘support staff in getting the Covid-19 vaccine once it’s offered to them’, some employers, in particular homecare companies, are going further and indicating they will not allow employees to return to the workforce or hire any new employees, unless they have received a Covid-19 vaccination. Pimlico Plumbers in London, has announced a ‘no jab, no job’ policy and intend to make inoculation a condition of employment. They plan to rewrite all of their current and new contracts to include the requirement and, when it becomes an option, will pay for employees to receive the vaccination. The consequences of a refusal to receive the vaccination will then be determined by Pimlico Plumbers on a case by case basis. Other businesses are in the process of setting up systems to track employees’ inoculations.
Notwithstanding Pimlico Plumbers’ actions, we recommend businesses take further legal advice before attempting to implement such a requirement. The legal risks of mandating vaccinations, in particular the risk of breach of contract and discrimination claims, have not changed, subject to any future government guidance on the topic.
If you would like any further information on the vaccination and your business, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
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