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Covid ‘Plan B’ restrictions: can employers force employees to be vaccinated?

Plan B vaccine

From Monday 13 December 2021, workers in England must work from home if possible as part of new rules introduced by the government to limit the spread of the Covid Omicron variant. But can the businesses that need employees in the workplace force them to be vaccinated? Damian Kelly, partner and head of the employment law practice at Lodders, explains.

“Other than employers of care home staff, employers have no legislative right to require staff to be vaccinated.

“In other sectors, employers who try to mandate staff vaccinations are running a high risk of Employment Tribunal claims, including claims for unlawful discrimination”, explains Damian.

“Increasingly, employers are seeing value in introducing Vaccination Policies which, whilst falling short of requiring mandatory vaccinations, encourage their staff to get vaccinated and set out various means by which they will be supported in doing so.

Care home staff

“For care homes and their staff, The Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021 were approved on 22nd July 2021, and made it mandatory for a person working or providing professional services in a care home to have the Covid-19 vaccine from the 11th of November 2021.

“Vaccines for care home workers are therefore now compulsory unless the person has provided clinical reasons why he or she cannot be vaccinated. Religious and philosophical beliefs do not suffice, and the new regulations apply to England only.”

Vaccination Policy

He adds: “Employers should give careful consideration to the drafting of a Vaccination Policy and the way in which it is communicated and implemented across their workforces. Important issues for consideration are likely to include timing, confidentiality, time off measures and fair procedures for dismissals should they be necessary.”

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