Does an employer have to ensure their employees are vaccientated against Covid-19?
By Dee Woodcock
Does an employer have a health and safety obligation to ensure their employees are vaccinated?
No, not at present.
What an employer does have is an obligation to ensure that it complies with the Health and Safety guidelines set out by the Government as part of the Covid-19 secure guidelines. This means that it must ensure that it has health and safety equipment in place, as well as safe working practices to minimise the risk of people’s exposure to Covid-19.
Vaccination can and will assist the employer in meeting its obligations, however it will not replace them.
Employers therefore cannot currently insist that employees have the vaccination. What they can do, though, is encourage and support employees to get vaccinated, as part of their general Health and Safety obligations.
It may be sensible for employers to consider introducing a policy on Covid-19 vaccination as part of employers’ ongoing engagement and communication with employees about the pandemic.
This policy should encourage and support employees about vaccination but should also accept and acknowledge that there will be circumstances in which vaccination may not be appropriate. It may provide for paid time off to attend vaccination appointments and offer enhanced sick pay, should an individual experience a side effect which may prevent them from attending work.