What are employers allowed to enforce? (Picture: Markku Ulander/REX)
Over 13 million people in the UK have now had their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, bringing us that much closer to a return to some semblance of normality.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he hopes a combination of medication and vaccinations can help us deal with COVID-19 ‘like we do with the flu’ by the end of the year.
In November, Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat said on HuffPost UK’s Commons People that he could ‘certainly see the day’ when vaccines would be mandatory for people returning to the office.
With anyone over the age of 65 now able to get the vaccine as the rollout continues, does your employer actually have any authority over whether you get vaccinated?
Can your boss make you get a Covid vaccine?
The Telegraph reported this week that the issue of whether employers can be allowed under Health and Safety laws to enforce the taking of the vaccine is currently under discussion in Government
However, at the time of writing, the Government has not made getting a Covid vaccine mandatory, thus making it difficult to legally justify making people get vaccinations to be able to work.
Gillian McAteer, head of employment law at Citation, would therefore not advise employers make having vaccines compulsory for their workers.
Getting vaccinated can help protect both you and those you come into contact with (Picture: PA)
She explains: ‘Employee vaccination is a very emotive topic.
‘However, I would advise employers to stop short of making vaccines compulsory.
‘In particular, no public organisation, including the NHS, has made vaccination a compulsory requirement for any position.
‘Instead, employers can set out the dangers of COVID-19, the benefits of having the vaccine (as detailed in government publications) and strongly encourage employees to take up the opportunity of having the vaccine.
‘But in the absence of any government compulsory vaccinations, we do not believe at present that it would be reasonable to make the vaccine a requirement for employees to work.’
It’s worth noting that, if you are able to get the vaccine, doing so will help protect not just you, but those around you who have not been vaccinated yet or might not be able to get vaccinated for medical reasons.
Even if getting the jab were to become mandatory among the general public, there will still be people who are medically exempt from getting it.
According to the NHS website, you should not have the Covid vaccine if you’ve ever experienced a ‘serious allergic reaction’ (including anaphylaxis) to ‘a previous dose of the same vaccine’ or ‘any of the ingredients in the vaccine.’
Major allergic reactions to vaccines are rare, and if you were to have one, they typically occur within minutes while the person is still around medical staff, who are trained to help.
Pregnant people and those trying for a baby can have the jab, however the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advises: ‘Pregnant women with underlying conditions that put them at very high risk of serious complications from COVID should discuss the risks and benefits with their doctor before deciding whether to have the vaccination.’
At the time of writing, there’s no evidence the vaccine is unsafe for pregnant people, but more evidence will be needed before they can be offered it routinely.
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