With the Oxford-AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines all now cleared for use in the UK, how will this affect you and your workforce?
When will the vaccine be available for working-age people?
The Joint Committee On Vaccination And Immunisation (JCVI) is the body overseeing the Covid vaccination programme in the UK, with the National Health Service (NHS) delivering the vaccine to the public. Different cohorts who will receive the vaccine, categorised by age and by any clinical condition that makes an individual more prone to illness were they to catch Covid-19.
Age groups from 80+ down to 50+ have now been vaccinated. The next cohorts to be vaccinated will be:
The Government’s aim is for all the 18-49 age groups to be vaccinated between April 2021 and July 2021, dependent on the available supplies of the three approved vaccines.
Can you force your employees to be vaccinated?
Currently, there are no laws in place that allow employers to order existing employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. The UK Government policy is that vaccinations are voluntary. If your business was to put rules in place insisting on employees being vaccinated, this could very well contravene your own HR guidance, not to mention the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, and article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
So, the short answer is ‘No’. Employees have a right to refuse the vaccine and you can’t legally oblige them to do so.
Are there circumstances where vaccination is good practice?
There are some circumstances in which employers in certain high-risk sectors may require existing or potential employees to be vaccinated, on safety grounds. If there’s Government guidance that provides specific orders requiring vaccination of certain workers, then employers and employees must comply. However, there’s currently no legal basis for this and vaccination should not be a condition of employment or part of employment contracts.
You should discuss the conditions for requiring vaccinations with your HR and legal representatives. It’s also good practice to discuss any proposed changes to agreements with your employees, including options for implementation and safe work practices.
What will the long-term implications of a vaccinated workforce be?
The majority of your workforce should have been vaccinated by late Summer 2021. If this goes according to plan, your business will then be able to relax some of the more stringent Covid safety measures and can have more employees in the workplace.
It may be that vaccine certificated or vaccine passports will be needed for employees to enter certain areas, locations or workplaces, once the vaccination programme is completed. It’s also possible that your business may be able to provide a private vaccination programme for any existing or new employees who haven’t been immunised – subject to availability of the vaccine.
These measures are likely to be confirmed in late summer, so it’s a good idea to keep updated with Government and industry body guidance.
Talk to us about the implications of a vaccinated workforce
If you’re concerned about the strategic and operation impact of the vaccination programme on your workforce and business, come and talk to us.
As your adviser, we can look at the potential for ramping up your production/services, the financial impact of this and the effect on your planning and forecasting for 2021.
Get in touch.