As we celebrate the relative success of the government’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, are there new employment law dilemmas that arise as a result?
What's the concern?
There has been a lot of talk of the division emerging between those of us who had the COVID-19 vaccine and those who have not. Some countries, for example, have suggested they will only allow visitors to their shores who have already received the jab. As a result, there’s prospect that only those with a so-called ‘COVID-19 passport’ will be allowed to travel internationally; the rest of us may have to stay at home.
In the workplace, the question has arisen as to whether some employers might begin to insist that it is a precondition of employment that their staff have been vaccinated. More snappily, it’s been dubbed the ‘no jab, no job’ policy.
So, is this lawful?
Whether employers can safely adopt a ‘no jab, no job’ policy is likely to depend on a variety of factors. Will the employer impose the requirement on new recruits only? Or is it policy that companies will want to roll out to existing staff as well? Some potentially tricky issues could arise insofar as employees and workers feel that the policy offends their basic human rights. Other employees may argue that it amounts to unlawful discrimination or even harassment. Certainly, there’s the prospect that it might indirectly affect people with certain disabilities or who hold certain religious or other beliefs more than their non-disabled or non-believing colleagues.
In very basic terms, any employer thinking of implementing a ‘no jab, no job’ approach will need to assess their particular circumstances very carefully. Are there particular and identifiable reasons why it is reasonable and justifiable to insist on some or all of their staff receiving the vaccine? The whole thing needs to be very properly thought through.
Need to know more?
If you are weighing up the pros and cons of a ‘no jab, no job’ policy within your organisation, please get in touch with us to discuss this thorny issue in more detail.