‘No jab – no job’ – beware the pitfalls

More than one in five employers in the North West plan to implement a Covid-19 “no-jab, no-job” policy in the year ahead for existing staff, according to a new report.

However, experts are warning it is a “very tricky area” of employment law and urge business leaders to get legal advice if they are thinking of introducing a vaccine policy.

Workplace experts, Acas, commissioned YouGov to ask senior decision makers in businesses in the region whether they plan to make it a requirement for staff to be vaccinated against Covid-19 as a condition of employment in the year ahead.

More than one in five of employers (22 per cent) said yes for existing staff and 21 per cent said yes when it came to new workers.

Terry Duffy, Acas North West area director said: “Most businesses in the North West have no plans to require staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in the year ahead but more than one in five do want to make it a requirement for existing staff.

“However, this is a very tricky area of employment law and it’s a good idea for employers in the North West to get legal advice if they are thinking of bringing in a vaccine policy.

“Acas advice is that it is always best to support staff to get the vaccine rather than insisting that they get it. We have free advice on how best to support staff and avoid conflict.”

There is currently no law in England, Scotland or Wales that says employees must have the vaccine. The government removed the previous requirements for care home, health and social care staff in March.

The advice from Acas is that it is best to support staff to get the Covid-19 vaccine rather than requiring them to get it.

If an employer feels it is important for staff to be vaccinated, then they should talk with staff or the organisation’s recognised trade union if they have one. Talking with staff can help to:

• Agree a vaccine policy that’s appropriate for both staff and the organisation
• support staff to protect their health
• keep good working relationships
• avoid disputes in the future

Acas says there are also some practical ways that employers could support staff, such as paying them their usual rate of pay if they are off sick with vaccine side effects instead of statutory sick pay.

Employers could also consider offering staff paid time off for vaccination appointments.

If someone does not want to be vaccinated, then the employer should listen to their concerns. Some people may have health reasons such an allergic reaction to the vaccine and some employees may have other reasons for not wanting to be vaccinated.

Acas adds that employers should be sensitive towards personal situations and must be careful to avoid discrimination.