Businesses warned on mandatory Covid vaccination schemes

  • A new Chartered Management Institute poll reveals that over half of managers support mandatory Covid vaccinations for staff, but implementing this could lead to HR problems.

    Northern Ireland's Covid-19 vaccination rates are rapidly climbing, and businesses across the UK are planning to get back to work in the coming months. But can you implement a mandatory vaccination requirement for staff, and is it safe to allow staff back in the office if they aren't vaccinated?

    A new poll of over 1,000 managers conducted by the Chartered Management Institute has shed some light on this issue. Over half of those surveyed supported the right to make Covid vaccinations mandatory for employees before they can return to work.

    Certain staff members may be unable to take the vaccine due to medical issues or disability, which would be protected against discrimination under law. An employee's philosophical and religious beliefs are also protected, but it's not yet known whether someone choosing not to be vaccinated would be covered under this.

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    Employers who enforce mandatory vaccinations before return to work may find themselves in trouble. This could also include indirect measures to pressure employees into vaccination such as excluding them from the office while their co-workers are allowed to return. This could also be complicated by the fact that many businesses are already planning to use a hybrid work model that splits time between home and the office.

    BeyondHR Managing Director Neil McLeese warned that mandatory vaccination could pose legal and HR problems for employers who want to go down this route. While it's an employer's legal obligation to provide a safe workplace, some workers could challenge the decision to exclude them from the office.

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    Neil warns: "An employee’s anti-vaccination position could amount to a protected philosophical belief under equality legislation. So, if an anti-vaxxer can establish that their belief was genuinely held and worthy of respect, then they may find success at a tribunal and this is something that employers need to bear in mind before making any drastic decisions."

    “If an employee’s refusal to be vaccinated is down to a disability/protected religious/philosophical belief, and results in disciplinary action from their employer, they may be able to issue a direct or indirect discrimination claim for constructive unfair dismissal, if they resign in protest.

    Source: Written based on press release

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    Brendan is a Sync NI writer with a special interest in the gaming sector, programming, emerging technology, and physics. To connect with Brendan, feel free to send him an email or follow him on Twitter.

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