Vaccination argument rumbles on…

A large number of businesses have said that they require staff to be vaccinated against Covid, research has suggested. A survey of 400 businesses found that 70% were planning to implement vaccine mandates, including one in 22% who said that jabs would be mandatory for all workers regardless of any potential exemptions.

Just under half of respondents said they would require all staff to be vaccinated excluding those with a medical exemption.

The survey also found that nearly three-quarters said that an employee’s vaccination status would impact their return to the office, with a third saying that only vaccinated staff would be able to return.

In November, the English care sector will be legally required to have all staff and volunteers fully vaccinated against Covid, this is not the case for other industries but a number of companies have implemented their own requirements including supermarket chain Morrisons, which will be reducing sick pay for unvaccinated staff who are required to self-isolate.

However, employment lawyers have warned that employers have to carefully balance their desire to provide a safe workplace with the rights of their workforce. It might be lawful for an organisation to mandate vaccinations in a limited number of cases – for example in health and care settings – but in most cases it will be difficult for employers to mandate staff to be vaccinated.

Employers must proceed with caution if they are considering the introduction of policies and provisions related to vaccination status as such policies could lead to challenges of discriminatory conduct. Vaccination status may be linked to disability or even philosophical beliefs, and so any policy which places non-vaccinated individuals at a potential disadvantage would have to be objectively justified in an employment tribunal.

It is essential to consult with all employees that may perceive any policy to be detrimental to them, in order to avoid expensive and time consuming litigation.

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