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Covid Vaccination Employee Rights

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Can an employer require employees to have a coronavirus (COVID-19)

Employers have a duty to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, 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.

Vaccinations are not currently available for employers to buy privately to provide for their employees, but employers can encourage employees to take up the vaccine when they are eligible under the national programme.

However, if employees do not agree to a vaccine, employers are limited in what they can do, beyond encouraging take up. An employer could consider informing employees that refusing a vaccination could lead to disciplinary action.

BUT There is a risk that such a policy could cause employee relations problems, as employees may feel strongly that this should be a personal decision. It would also raise several legal issues, with a particular risk of complaints relating to discrimination on grounds of religion or belief, disability, and age; constructive dismissal; and human rights issues.

Employers should be aware that employees may have a medical reason for not getting the vaccination.

It is currently unlikely that an employer would be able to use health and safety grounds to justify taking disciplinary action against an employee for refusing a vaccine, particularly in the early stages of the vaccination programme.

This may change over time, when more is known about the effects of the vaccination programme, but there is still likely to be an extremely high threshold to meet to justify such a policy. It may be possible in exceptionally high-risk circumstances, where alternative measures have been taken into consideration and where the policy accounts for the circumstances of individual employees.

Image: based on “MERS Coronavirus Particles“​ by NIAID used under CC BY 2.0
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redundancy update training

redundancy slide

We have already seen a huge increase in redundancies. As Government support is phased out these will increase exponentially.

It is imperative for all involved that the redundancy process is legal and fair, well communicated and executed.

Getting it wrong increases the stress and worry for all, damages moral and commitment and opens the company up to unwanted adverse publicity and unfair dismissal claims.

Our one-day face to face training courses, delivered on your premises, on redundancies can be tailored to the needs of the differing parties, for example HR and operational managers looking to develop a robust structure or Employee/Union reps looking to understand the law and how best to support staff.