One of the most contentious concerns for everyone, but employers in particular, is the issue of Covid vaccinations.
The government has published guidance for employers on Covid vaccinations. Unsurprisingly, their opening line is that 'vaccines are the way out of this pandemic'. Interestingly, the guidance also points out that employers are 'in a unique position to support the Covid 19 vaccination programme by encouraging staff to get both the first jab and then, when they are eligible, their second jab'. Employers will know of course that this is easier said than done. There are people who will be unable to have a vaccine due to medical reasons along with religious beliefs and other objections. This is a difficult path for employers to tread.
As a starting point, the government is advising as follows:
- sharing information on the facts relating to vaccination including sharing contents to have the conversation with employees
- direct employees to trusted sources of information when they ask for more details
- provide practical information about how to get vaccinated
- post articles or blogs in company communications (for example, newsletters, intranet, emails, portals) about the importance of Covid 19 vaccination in addition to how and where to get the vaccine in their local area
- consider using departmental 'champions' to promote vaccination
- encourage senior staff to share their vaccination experiences
- signpost employees to experts and community leaders who are promoting the vaccine
- be open with employees as to what support business will provide to facilitate workforce vaccination; this could include allowing breaks in the day or time off to enable employees to get vaccinated and review sick leave policies and procedures to consider whether they diss incentivise employees from getting vaccinated
- in addition, there is an 'employers communication toolkit' which can be downloaded to assist.
Employers should consider taking specialist employment advice in this difficult and sensitive area. It is fair to say that legal challenges will be made in the near future and employers do not want to find themselves standing up without a chair when the music stops.
To discuss this or any other employment related matter, please contact us.