What Employers Need to Know About the Covid Vaccine

With the vaccine rollout in full swing, questions have started to emerge around what employers can and can’t do when it comes to team members who might be opposed to being vaccinated.

While you cannot force your staff to have the vaccine, you can advise them to do so, as it is likely to be the safest decision to help protect them, their colleagues and customers, especially if your business is a high-risk environment such as a healthcare facility.

Encouraging staff to receive the vaccine

In most circumstances, it is best to support staff to get the vaccine without making it a formal requirement of their employment; as there are no employment regulations in place on this subject, it is yet to be determined whether a dismissal for a lack of vaccination would be deemed lawful, but I suspect that may be difficult to enforce.

It’s important to remember that some people may be protected from discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. For example, if someone is pregnant and they cannot be vaccinated, this is likely to be a clear unlawful reason for any kind of detrimental treatment, including of course, dismissal.

If an employer feels it is important for staff to be vaccinated, they should work with staff to discuss what steps to take.

Having a Covid vaccine policy is a useful way of communicating to employees regarding the organisation’s stance on the subject and guiding them as to the reasons why this is so important and how they can access information and support.

How to support staff to get the vaccine

If an employer wants to support staff to get the vaccine, as with most things when it comes to people, communication is key. Explain why it is so important to the organisation; make sure people feel they can ask questions, and importantly, be on hand to answer them and put their mind at ease.

To encourage your people to have the vaccine, here are some things to consider allowing:

• Paid time off to attend vaccination appointments.
• Paying staff their usual rate of pay if they’re off sick with vaccine side effects, instead of Statutory Sick Pay.
• Not counting vaccine-related absences in absence records or towards HR ‘trigger’ points.

If someone is concerned about being vaccinated

If a team member doesn’t want to be vaccinated, listen to their concerns. Employers should be sensitive towards individual situations; don’t make assumptions as to people’s reasons for not wanting the vaccine, and of course make sure you keep any concerns confidential.

A likely factor in people not wanting the vaccine could be health concerns or allergies, and of course there’s the likelihood that some people will have a lack of factual information regarding the risks and benefits.

In order to help your people to make a balanced decision, ensure you’re able to direct them to official Government guidance and also guidance from reputable organisations such as the World Health Organisation, where there is a host of medical information available. In addition, employees should be encouraged to talk to their doctor if they’re concerned about their health and getting the vaccine – consider offering paid time off for such an appointment if you wouldn’t normally.

If any employees decide against taking the vaccine and you’re concerned about the impact, there are other measures employers can put in place in order to protect the organisation, such as rolling out regular Covid testing.

There’s no denying the fact that the subject of vaccines in the aftermath of a global pandemic, is a new area for employers to navigate and therefore it will be challenging in some instances. This will be overcome by continuing to communicate with your people; explain your rationale and the reasons behind it and many employers will find their people conclude that the vaccine is the right decision for them.

If your organisation needs help with navigating Covid vaccine challenges, or developing a Covid vaccine policy, get in touch for a complimentary discovery call to see how we can support you enquiries@thehrconsultants.co.uk.