Vaccination Policies: What employers need to consider

22 February 2021

When setting out a vaccination policy, employers should consider the scope of the policy (for example, will it apply to contractors, workers and visitors as well as employees), what the employer's approach to vaccination is and whether there are any roles for which vaccination is mandatory. The policy should also deal with issues such as whether staff will be given paid time off to attend appointments and any obligation on employees to report vaccination status to the employer, taking into account data protection laws. As the vaccine situation is rapidly developing, employers should review their vaccine policy regularly to ensure it is kept up to date.

Employers should be taking action now to encourage employees to be vaccinated where they are eligible and, particularly in sectors where they will be in contact with vulnerable people such as health/care workers, communicate the importance of being vaccinated as soon as possible. Employers should also consider whether they will be collecting information from staff about whether they have been vaccinated and, if so, how they will collect and store this information in a manner compliant with data protection law. Employers should also be considering how they propose to manage employees who refuse to provide information or confirm that they will not be having the vaccine. 

Employers could introduce measures to encourage workers to be vaccinated by taking either the 'carrot' or 'stick' approach. Employees could be provided with an additional day off to have their vaccination, which may encourage staff to have their vaccine and also provide them with some time to recover from any minor side-effects. In the longer term, employers could also consider withdrawing any enhanced sick pay for staff who are required to self-isolate, although they may wish to wait until it is clear whether those who have been vaccinated are exempt from the requirement to self-isolate and the vaccine is being offered to everyone, otherwise it may discourage staff from being tested or self-isolating in line with PHE guidance.

It is likely that, for some professions, vaccination could be made mandatory, for example, where an employee is required to travel overseas for work and it is a condition (imposed either by the UK or other countries) that an individual is vaccinated. It may also be considered mandatory in roles where the employee is in close contact with vulnerable people, such as health workers. Before deciding whether vaccination could be mandatory in the workplace, employers must carefully consider whether it is reasonably necessary to impose such a requirement and ensure that such a decision can be objectively justified. 

If you have any queries or questions regarding the above, please contact Natasha Letchford or complete the form below and one of the team will get back to you. 

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