Can Employers Force You to Have a Covid-19 Vaccine?
Over 20 million people have received the Coronavirus vaccine in the UK, and there have been rumours circulating about a ‘vaccine passport’; there are also concerns that you won’t be able to work without getting the vaccine. Not everyone is eligible for the vaccination, and some individuals don’t want it.
Where do I stand if I choose not to take the vaccination, can my employer force me?
Your employer cannot force you to get vaccinated if you choose not to or are not eligible.
In certain industries, such as healthcare or care home settings there may be legitimate health and safety reasons for requiring vaccinations. For instance, if the worker could potentially put others at risk. The vaccination is not even compulsory in the NHS, where the dangers of coronavirus are more prominent. If you require information about the vaccination you should speak to your employer or look at the NHS website. Your employer may provide you with information on the benefits of the vaccination, in terms of health and safety, but they cannot force you.
Can my employer alter my contract?
Your employer cannot alter your contract to make you must get vaccinated. In certain sectors, such as healthcare, it might be suggested that this would be appropriate for care purposes, but not within construction. As you are working on-site, it is even less likely that this would be a suggestion. Employers may alter contracts going forward, with a requirement that any new employees would require a vaccination, but they would need to have adequate reasons for this. It is unlikely this would be a requirement for construction workers based on site. It is more likely in customer-facing industries.
Can my employer ask if I am getting the Covid-19 vaccine?
If there is no policy requiring you to inform the employer about the vaccination, you would not need to let them know this information.
Can I be dismissed if I refuse to get the vaccination?
An employer may consider dismissing an employee if they are putting others at risk, such as within healthcare. However, with construction workers on-site, there is no legitimate reason for dismissing an employee who does not get the vaccination. In most cases, the employer would be putting themselves at risk of being taken to a tribunal if they took this step. In the worst case, they should be trying to find an alternative way for the employee to work. Again, this is not the case within construction where you are not customer-facing.
This post was contributed by Lyndsey McLaughlin, a HR Professional with Recruitwite