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Posted: 23rd March 2021
Hi All, I have been asked to think about our company position to the covid 19 vaccine. I am keen to go down the adult to adult, awareness, education, impartial route. But there are some strong views about no vaccine, no access. I am keen to here what other business are doing? Thanks in Advance
I am not sure if there is a legal aspect of “forcing” employees to have a vaccine or not, or whether employers can make it a condition of employment. I assume that if it is a condition, it must be a reasonable one and this could be business by business dependant e.g. if I work at home all day and don’t come into contact with customers or other employees, is it reasonable to ask me to be vaccinated? The question that needs to be answered i think is why? Why would you ask people to be vaccinated – is it because of Customer impact, , employee reassurance, a bit of both or something else. I work in an organisation that has a mixture of home, field and site based workers. We believe that the safety controls we have in place already mitigate as many risks as possible and we are not currently planning on mandating the vaccine at this stage. We are doing what you have suggested and raising awareness and encouraging people to have the vaccine. I hope this helps!
We have gone down the offer, inform, educate and encourage route for our Carers, and we have had about 75% take up. We have found that once other colleagues have had it, more are willing. We aren’t going down the ‘force’ route however I do think it will come in for certain professions. There is a lot of talk of Doctors having to have Hepatitis B, and likening this to the vaccine. I would just encourage and wait and see what the law does
Our company has not gone down the mandating of vaccination as a pre-requisite to returning to work. Most countries are on an age based rollout so it may be a while till younger workers are offered it. We do, however, enforce people being sent home or not allowed in the office if they are at all unwell, but that was in place well before COVID to prevent flu circulation.
As Neil points out it will come in for certain professions I’m guessing like hospital staff and even airline staff. And I’m hoping there are vaccination passports as I’m desperate to travel and see family and friends in Europe and Australia as I’m on assignment in London. But mandating for returning to office work – perhaps the answer is simply giving people the choice of not returning to the office till we are all vaccinated.
Vaccination is more about the individual protecting themselves. Even with full vaccination, from what I understand, you can still be a carrier. The “No Jab, No Job” route could be the thin end of the wedge whereby the individual’s own Life/Health Choices become a determining factor, which is a dangerous step.
Testing, however, I do think should be looked at more and more. It is there for Protecting everyone else, not just the individual. Up to the point whereby all the UK vaccination Programme(s) are completed, the regular Testing of team members prior to them entering the office is something that should be considered. An individual refusing to have the vaccine primarily is a risk to their own health. Refusing to take a Test is a greater risk to their colleagues’ health.
I agree with Dawn, is there a reasonable need to ask employees to be vaccinated? This may be dependent on the type of work/industry/client/customer interaction. You may also need to consider exceptions for those who cannot have it – those with allergies, or pregnant women (who are currently not advised to have it).
We are not mandating, but supporting employees and have confirmed that any time off to attend vaccine appointments and any related time off if they’re feeling unwell afterwards will be paid in full, and not counted as absence/sickness.
I agree with the sentiments expressed above.
The vaccine itself is not mandatory, and so to attempt to enforce it in a workplace which does not require it has the potential to cause real issues in terms of morale, engagement, and litigation. I struggle to see how such a policy would be enforceable in real life – it’s all very well saying it’s a policy, but what happens when someone flatly refuses to have it? Will you dismiss them, and if so, on what basis? Gross misconduct? SOSR? There is the potential to start an unnecessary conflict of which I cannot see a positive outcome for any party.
I would continue with your current approach and put (virtual, obviously) workshops in place for those who are uncomfortable about the vaccine, to try and understand and overcome the objections by way of education – perhaps try and get your OH provider to come in and give some medical and scientific information to people. Ultimately, if people elect not to have the vaccine, then perhaps alternative policies be put in place for those people – e.g. ongoing social distancing, masks etc past the duration of the government guidelines.
Xpert HR has a good podcast on your limited options!
Thank you all for your views, really great to get external views on the matter and helps with the business case and stakeholder engagement.
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