The majority of North West businesses will not make the COVID-19 vaccination mandatory within their organisation, despite the growing debate around ‘no jab, no job’.
As the Government considers plans to introduce COVID certification, as it continues to open up the UK economy, 83% of the region’s business and HR leaders confirmed that they don’t intend to force employees to take up the vaccine, before returning to the office.
In a survey conducted during our recent HR Forum, more than a third of respondents said that staff had indicated they would not take the vaccine, with ‘anti-vax’ beliefs being the biggest driver (50%). Medical reasons (40%) and race (10%) also accounted for the most common reasons why North West employees would refuse to be immunised.
Adam Pavey, director and employment lawyer at Pannone Corporate, commented: “The issue of COVID vaccinations in the workplace is a highly complex one and a unique problem facing the region’s business and HR leaders.
“There are a number of employment law implications arising from a mandated vaccine. The law as it currently stands does not give an employer an automatic right to vaccinate. In fact, an employer is not able to force any employee to undertake what is essentially a medical procedure.”
Under the current law, an employer would have to argue that requiring an employee to take a vaccination is a “reasonable instruction”. If an employee fails to follow this, then it could give rise to a disciplinary issue which may ultimately lead to dismissal.
Pavey added: “Requiring employees to take a vaccine is not automatically a reasonable instruction. There is of course no case law on this point and the employment tribunals have yet to deal with this issue. However, whether the instruction is reasonable will likely depend upon the particular circumstances. For example, an employee who works in the care sector may be seen differently from somebody who is able to work from home.”
Pavey continued: “A mandatory workplace vaccine would undoubtedly give rise to complaints of discrimination. The science indicates that people with certain health issues may have an adverse reaction to the vaccine. It’s likely that many would be classed as disabled and so dismissal for a failure to vaccinate could amount to unlawful discrimination.”