Can you make an employee get the vaccine?
I got a question today from an employee asking whether he could be disciplined for not getting the vaccine if/when it is offered.
The government has been pleasantly surprised with the take up of the vaccination programme in the UK so far – they were hoping for a 75% uptake, and they have over 90% uptake in the “at risk” groups so far.
But regardless of how good the uptake is, some people are refusing, and will continue to do so, and right now, there are no plans to make any of the vaccines compulsory.
As an employer, you have no right to insist on any vaccinations, either during employment or as a condition of employment. It’s also unlikely that you could make staff get vaccinated on health and safety grounds.
If you were to force an employee to have a vaccine, it could result in a number of employment-related claims, plus an accusation of criminal assault.
And there’s also a chance of a personal injury claim, if there happened to be an adverse reaction.
The flipside is that if staff are going to get the vaccine, you don’t have to pay for their time off to get it done, but there may be good reasons for doing so.
For example, in my business, I pay for the flu jab for all of my staff, including the time off for taking it – this encourages them to get the jab, and reduces disincentives not to.
If you want to give yourself the best chance of your staff getting the jab, it’d be well worth considering paying them for the time it takes them to get it done, but- legally – you can’t force them to do it.