Are Unvaccinated Workers an Office Liability?

vaccine-rollout-office

With over 75% of UK adults now double jabbed and more than 32 million Brits with their first dose, a “no vaccine, no work” policy may not be out of the question. And yet, this office policy is giving rise to controversy amongst the anti-vaccine cohort.

 

Office Wide Policy

 

As the Covid vaccine is rapidly rolled out across the UK, an increasing number of employers are confident about the return to the office. However, with that, there are more and more employers who are leaning towards obligatory vaccinations in order to return to the office safely.

Already, some companies have started to implement this policy. Pimlico Plumbers was the trailblazing company in London, publicly announcing a “no jab, no job” policy. The company’s founder took it upon himself to invest in excess of £1million rolling out mandatory staff vaccines.

 

Legal Implications

 

​​While companies feel like they may have the right to implement these types of policy in order to keep their workforce safe, they may be opening themselves up to various legal issues.

The “no jab, no job” policies could raise discrimination claims, according to Philip Richardson, expert of employment law.

There are some people who are unable to get vaccinated, be it due to medical, ethical or religious motivations. For these staff members, this policy could rightfully result in unfair dismissal claims.

 

Refusal of Entry

 

Less extreme than firing unvaccinated staff, another option for employers who are passionate about the topic is to refuse office entry for unvaccinated staff. This could legally fall under a company’s health and safety risk assessment.

These types of policies could be especially relevant for shared office spaces, co-working set-ups or multi-occupancy offices.

However, with many still on the fence about the productivity of a remote workforce, this could potentially cause damage to company efficiency, not to mention inter-staff relations.

 

Certain Sectors

 

For some sectors, more than others, vaccines become less of a personal choice and more of an ethical obligation. Anyone working in the healthcare sector, or working in care homes, may be reasonably requested to be vaccinated.

In these circumstances, employees refusing the vaccination, cannot be permitted to work with vulnerable adults and children. Thus, in this situation, it may be reasonable for an employer to terminate a work contract.

 

Who Has Been Vaccinated?

 

Another challenge that employers may face is knowing who has had the vaccine. This presents problems relating to data protection and patient confidentiality.

From a legal perspective, anything relating to an individual’s health is considered personal data and thus is firmly regulated by data protection law. This means that employers can only gain access to vaccination data if an individual provides written consent.

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