It has recently been reported that half of UK adults have now received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Considering the fast-paced rollout of the vaccine, many employers will be questioning what their responsibilities are and what actions they should be taking to protect their workforce.
Can employers make the vaccine mandatory for employees?
The coronavirus vaccine has not been made compulsory by law, so although employers may prefer that their staff got vaccinated, not all have a right to make vaccination mandatory in the workplace. Employers in health care sectors may however be able to instruct their staff to get the vaccine as doing so could be regarded as a ‘reasonable instruction’ to ensure staff can do their job without putting those more vulnerable at risk.
Government advice for health workers can be found here.
If an employer does not have reasonable grounds to instruct staff to get vaccinated, what can employers do instead to encourage staff to get their COVID-19 vaccine?
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and ACAS have both released helpful guides for employers and recommend that they support staff in getting the vaccine, share the benefits, and encourage staff to be vaccinated.
Employers should consider taking the following actions.
The Department for health suggests employers should not relax current coronavirus precautions in the workplace despite staff being vaccinated. Health and safety measures such as social distancing should be kept in place to help keep the virus under control and to continue protecting employees.
Additional useful resources for employers can be found below.