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COVID-19 voluntary vs mandatory vaccination policies

View profile for Gillian Markland
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COVID-19 voluntary vs mandatory vaccination policies

Since the roll out of the coronavirus vaccine, starting in winter 2020, the majority of people have taken up the opportunity to be immunised. However, a minority have shown some reluctance or declined to have it.

For employers, unvaccinated employees could pose a risk which requires management to keep those employees, and those they work with, as safe as possible.

While a minority of companies are endeavouring to adopt a “no jab, no job” policy, this is a risky strategy for various reasons.

Predominantly, a mandatory vaccination policy which does not take into consideration a person’s reason for not accepting the vaccine, could easily give rise to a discrimination claim. Whether their reason for refusing are due to religious beliefs, medical advice relating to a disability, or a political belief, these protected characteristics should be considered in the implementation of a vaccination policy to minimise the risk of any such claim.

Such a stringent approach could also have implications where employees are dishonest and unwilling to share their vaccination status for fear of repercussions. Without this honesty, it could pose problems for the employer when it comes to implementing Covid-19 safety measures.

The best way to achieve a fully vaccinated work force is through positive encouragement. Sharing reputable medical information, providing time off for employees to receive the vaccine, discussing an individual’s concerns in order to discover their reason for refusal and offering guidance will all contribute to maximum take up of the vaccine.

A vaccination policy of any kind should not be a substitute for other Covid-19 safety measures. The two should work together to keep all staff safe. Where an employee refuses the vaccination, the employer should seek to introduce additional measures to keep that individual, and those they work with or the clients they serve, as safe as possible. This could be assisting them in working from home, or introducing things like additional masks and screens on their premises.

If you would like help with your vaccination policy, contact our employment team.

Our articles are intended for general information purposes only and are not a substitute for professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances. We are always very happy to discuss any plans, issues or concerns you may have and to clarify how we might be able to help. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.