Employers pursuing a “no jab, no job” policy have been cautioned to be “proportionate” and “non-discriminatory”. The guidance comes after senior ministers suggested companies are allowed to introduce a requirement for staff to be vaccinated.
When asked by Sky News whether he thought it was a good idea for people to be double vaccinated before they go back to the workplace, transport minister Grant Shapps said: “Yes I think it’s a good idea and yes some companies are going to require it”, echoing a similar sentiment expressed previously by Dominic Raab.
But, Shapps added: “We’re not going to make that legislation, that every adult has to be double vaccinated before they go back to the office.”
The CIPD – which represents human resources professionals and has more than 160,000 members – warned that companies could be liable for claims of abuse and even criminal complaints if they impose vaccines on workers. “Enforced vaccination would be a criminal offence against the person and an unlawful injury leading to claims such as assault and battery,” the CIPD said.
We would urge any employer to take caution, and be wary of implementing policies as a result of ministerial comments or public opinion.
Alison Gill, hr manager at advo said:
Employers will want to protect both their staff and customers through uptake on the vaccine, this is only natural. However, any requirements imposed by the employer must be proportionate, non-discriminatory and ensure provision is made for those who cannot be vaccinated.
There will be a small number of people who don’t get the vaccine – because they either can’t for medical reasons – or choose not to. It is imperative that employers do not stigmatise or discriminate against them.
In England, outside of care homes (where the government is introducing specific legislation in the autumn), the employment tribunal will remain the authority as to whether employers can indeed require staff to be vaccinated.
Tribunal claims depend entirely on the facts around that specific claim. If an employer was to attempt to take action against an employee for not being vaccinated, is is extremely likely that they could face a high risk of claim, if they cannot prove their mandate or actions were reasonable.
Unfortunately, comments from government ministers will not support an employer’s case during a tribunal.
Employers are likely to find engagement a far more effective strategy in securing vaccinations than imposition. This could be achieved through providing factual information which highlight the benefits, such as posters or leaflets. Some free examples are available from the government website, which can be accessed by clicking here.
Other options to consider could be providing flexible working hours, or paid time off to enable employees to attend vaccination appointments.
When promoting the vaccinations, I would recommend this is done in a supportive way to avoid employees feeling pressurised. Should any employee feel that they are being pressurised, they may feel that they are being bullied and their job is at risk, should they not take up the vaccine. This could lead to further issues.
advo would urge extreme caution for any employer wishing to introduce policies regarding vaccination. Seeking expert hr advice is imperative for any SME wishing to implement any kind of policy on vaccination. Talk to advo today if your organisation is affected by any of the issues discussed in this article.