To Vaccinate or Not To Vaccinate?
That is the question doing the rounds of employers across the country. Can you enforce vaccinations on your employees to make work safe again?
The crux of this question, brings us back to the fundamentals of how certain employer activity can be justified.
In order for an employer to enforce a rule which may conflict with employee beliefs, the rule must be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate business aim.
In English, that means it has to be a fair rule that is for a real purpose, not just something you decide to do because it suits you.
So for example, requiring all support workers in a care home to have a vaccination because of their working in close proximity to vulnerable clients would meet the test of being a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate business aim.
Requiring your office team to be vaccinated because you want to have more people in the office instead of working from home would not meet that test.
So that's issue number 1 sorted. You've got to have a very good reason to enforce vaccinations on your team.
But that doesn't give you a get out of jail free card. We still have equality issues to contend with.
Vaccinations can conflict with employees ethical or religious beliefs or their health requirements.
So an employer saying, you must have a vaccination or you will be dismissed would amount to indirect discrimination.
The reality is that, if the government is not enforcing vaccinations, there's little wiggle room for employers to do so without it being proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
What you CAN do, is a bit of positive reinforcement.
Allow paid or unpaid time off to attend vaccination appointments.
If you offer private health care, offer your staff free vaccinations.
If you don't currently offer healthcare as a benefit, consider it.
Communicate the company view on vaccinations and encourage people to get vaccinated if they can.
So remember, in order to enforce anything in your business which might conflict with employee's rights, it must be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. And even then, it's not fool proof!