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A dose of reality in requiring employees to vaccinate.

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead & Burton

As the law stands it is not possible for an employer to require employees to take a Covid-19 vaccine, and even though it may be desirable this can best be achieved by employers taking a consensual and voluntary approach.

Health and safety risk assessments in respect of the workplace should be reviewed in light of the new strain as well as the vaccine programme, and employers may wish to consider individual risk assessments for vulnerable employees. Indeed, there is a case for arguing that we are rapidly approaching a scenario where individual risk should be a key factor.

Effective communication and engagement with staff remain crucial, and to this end we recommend reviewing workplace risk assessments as vaccines become more widely available and inoculation numbers rise, particularly in the most vulnerable groups.

And forward-thinking employers, who may have introduced other policies to reflect the reality of Covid-19 being amongst us, may now consider adopting a vaccination policy. Although it may seem premature given where we are in the progress of the roll-out of the vaccine, we advise employers to start thinking ahead.  Any vaccine policy must be closely aligned with the employer’s health and safety risk assessment and, depending on the nature of the organisation, employers may wish to consult with employees or their representatives in drawing up a vaccine policy.

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