The Health Secretary proposed mandatory Covid vaccinations for care home staff. No jab, no job could be a dangerous approach for employers to take.
No jab, no job could be a dangerous approach for employers to take. There is not enough evidence to suggest taking the vaccine makes everyone’s working environment safe. If an employer tries to force their employees to receive the jab or decides not to hire someone based on their refusal to get the jab, it could be result in employment claims, for unfair dismissal and/or discrimination.
However, in circumstances where a person is working in the healthcare sector, or with vulnerable children and adults, and refuses to get the vaccine, there may well be more validity to the request by the employer for vaccinations. Fortunately, there is already a legal framework that sets out what employers can and can’t do in the name of health and safety at work, but as things stand, there is not legal right for an employer to demand its employee is vaccinated.
Vaccinations create a conflict of legal protections, where the freedom of individual choice is weighed against the health and safety of others. Some employees may have a justifiable reason for not wanting to take the vaccine, and we would always urge employers to discuss an employee’s reluctance, whether it be related to a disability or religious reasons.
Additionally, in all cases, every other option would need to be exhausted before dismissal was to be considered. For example, they could ask an employee if they can work from home, or to consider switching to a role that would mean they are coming into contact with fewer people in order to effectively safeguard against the potential risk.
If no solution can be found, there could be serious ramifications for the employers if they dismissed or refused jobs. It is likely that we will see a significant increase in cases brought before the employment tribunal to decide the rights of employers vs employees.
For advice on your situation, contact us.
Comments from our employment team on this issue have been covered by various media outlets. It will be interesting to see how this story develops as we emerge from this phase of lockdown. (Spring 2021).
Our employment lawyers were also busy on the radio across the country. For a radio clip listen here.