16 Feb Do staff have to tell their employer that they have been vaccinated?
Do staff have to tell their employer that they have been vaccinated? – advice by Alan Price, CEO of BrightHR
The UK’s fast-running coronavirus vaccination rollout has hit its early target, offering a first dose to 15 million vulnerable people and health-care workers by Monday, as the government promised.
One group, however, that appears to be lagging is social care staff. The health secretary, Matt Hancock, reported that a third of social care staff in England had not had the Covid-19 vaccine yet. This will raise questions for employers about how to deal with the situation in their businesses when the vaccine becomes more readily available and whether they can ask their staff if they have been vaccinated.
The first thing employers need to bear in mind is that the government haven’t made it a legal requirement for people to be vaccinated for Covid-19, nor for them to inform their employer when this has taken place. Therefore, whether such a provision could be required of staff will depend upon the company in question and the role of the employee.
For example, it may be easier to argue that an individual in the care industry should inform their employer whether they’ve had a vaccine, as this could help to reduce the risk of them, their colleagues and service users becoming infected. However, this may be much more difficult to justify in an office environment, especially when other levels of mitigation are put into place, such as social distancing, that can help reduce the risk of infection.
Arguably, this is a personal decision for individuals to make and should not impact their ability to conduct their role unless demonstrated otherwise. To this end, it should be carefully considered if asking staff to disclose this information could lead to problems with employee relations and, more seriously, constructive unfair dismissal if their failure to disclose this information means they are penalised at work.
In short, if employers do want to put this in place, they should be able to justify why it is necessary clearly. It should be remembered that it remains unknown if having a vaccine will help reduce transmission of the virus, and indeed it is already confirmed that all current jabs on offer are not 100% effective. As this data becomes available, it may become easier to justify this requirement, but in this, as with many other things, we will have to wait and see.