The Government is currently rolling out its national COVID-19 vaccination programme. Some of our clients have asked us if they can force their employees into having the vaccine, or if they can implement a policy. Here we have put together some short guidance for you to give you more information on what, as an employer, you can and cannot do in regards to this matter.

What is the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme?

Vaccinations are free of charge on the NHS. They are being administered according to a priority list at vaccination centres, including some hospitals, sports stadiums, conference centres and GP surgeries.

What if any of my employees are not registered with a GP?

We advise our clients to encourage their employees to register with a GP as soon as they can.

Can I force my employees to have the vaccination?

No, you cannot. Having the vaccination is an individual decision. You can, however, create a policy that provides employees with information to make an informed choice.

What if my employees don’t want to have the vaccination?

There are a great deal of resources available for individuals to read and make an informed choice about whether or not to have the vaccination. We can provide you information to pass on to your employees should you decide to communicate this across the organisation.

Will my employees need time off to attend vaccination appointments?

We are advising all of our clients to offer paid or unpaid, authorised, time off to attend vaccination appointments. This can be written into a policy that we are happy to support you with.

Will employees need time off after their vaccination?

As far as the current information states, employees should be able to resume all normal activities, including work, as long as they feel well following a vaccination. However, employees who are unwell after receiving a coronavirus vaccination should take sickness absence in the usual way.

What if my employees have strong views on the vaccination programme?

We recognise that the subject of the COVID-19 vaccination programme can be divisive and lead to the expression of strong opinions. It is important that employers treat their employees with dignity and respect, whatever their decision, and that colleagues follow the organisations bullying and harassment policy when expressing their opinions.

Should we create a policy?

To protect employees and the organisations, we recommend that you create a policy that:

  • outlines that having the vaccination is the employee’s decision; and
  • gives employees information on how to raise a complaint should they feel bullied, offended or concerned about a colleague’s behaviour in regards to this subject.