No Jab, No Job

There has been much in the UK news about the so-called ‘no jab, no job’ policy intended to be rolled out by some employers – is this legal? Can they do this? What are the options?

Unlike other countries, there are significant legal obligations placed on employers that make a ‘no jab, no job’ policy challenging to instigate. For starters, there can be issues with the Equality Act if employees are required to get a jab, given that some vulnerable people have been told to wait for further information as to how the jab affects their condition. Could we see these situations escalate into disability discrimination cases at Tribunal?

Employees are also concerned by the news articles relating to risks of blood clots. The scientists have explained that such risks are incredibly small for most – but those concerns remain and we live in a society where people have personal choice about their health decisions, don’t we?

Yes, we do! However, healthcare settings appear to be treated differently and the Government has passed legislation (coming into force in November) which requires care home workers to be vaccinated. Presumably similar legislation would be required to extend this to other workers/industries.

So what can employers do who are not in a healthcare setting? Encouraging open conversations about vaccination is always a good start but care must be taken not to inadvertently alienate those who are yet to reach a decision on vaccination (or those that have decided not to get vaccinated). Treating unvaccinated employees differently (for example, requiring them to work from home or putting them in a segregated part of the office) may lead to discrimination issues and potentially claims of constructive unfair dismissal. Employers need to take a much more nuanced approach centered around good communication.

Steps should be taken to ensure that people’s personal choices about their health and wellbeing are respected whilst also fulfilling the duty of care to those employees who are vaccinated but remain vulnerable to the virus – and therefore potentially at greater risk from unvaccinated colleagues who may transmit the virus more readily.

Reaching agreements on how colleagues will safely act in your workplace is the best way forward – assess the risks and mitigate them as far as possible. With agreement from all parties, maintain social distancing for those at risk by reconfiguring the workspace, identifying hybrid home/office working strategies and, where necessary, replacing face to face interaction with virtual communications.

There will always be strong arguments and equally strong emotions when it comes to vaccination requirements at work and we know that sometimes we will have to agree to disagree, but as employers, if you allow open 2-way communication and facilitate some common sense adjustments to the workplace – we might just be able to find a way through.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.