As millions more people of working age are being offered the Covid-19 vaccination, lawyers at Irwin Mitchell are predicting a rise in employment tribunal claims.
The comments come as the ‘no jab, no job’ debate continues to divide opinion and while the question of what an employer can and cannot reasonably insist on remains unclear.
As the UK Covid vaccination programme gathers pace with those aged over 40 now being offered the jab, employers who insist staff take the vaccine when offered could face challenges on discrimination grounds.
With no legal basis the government can rely on to force people to be vaccinated, ministers have indicated that people will not be forced to have the jab if they don’t want it.
While employers can and should encourage staff to be vaccinated, the government’s position makes it legally problematic for employers to compel staff to attend vaccination centres.
In addition to making workplaces covid secure, many employers are considering if it’s a ‘reasonable instruction’ to ask staff to take the vaccine once they’re offered it.
As a matter of contract and employment law, if an employer can establish that asking staff to take the jab is a reasonable management instruction and they refuse, an employer may be able to justify taking disciplinary action for disobedience.
Donna Seferta, Partner at law firm Irwin Mitchell said: “If employers do ask staff to be vaccinated once they are eligible, and take action against those that refuse, we’re likely to see a spike in employment cases as courts try to work this problem out.
“Employers are on firmer ground if they can argue that they want their staff to be vaccinated to protect other members of staff or people they come into regular contact with as part of their role. Examples could include teachers and healthcare workers. But this argument carries less weight for say, someone who works from home and has very limited contact with others.
“If an employee does refuse the jab, much will hinge on why. Someone who has been advised not to be vaccinated on medical grounds (such as some pregnant women) can reasonably refuse. It is going to be the grey areas of religious or philosophical belief that will likely cause most debate.
“Anti-vaxxers would have to show their views are worthy of respect, so are less of a concern than those who may object on religious grounds or have other beliefs that are protected. Here, employers would need to ensure any policy in place is not indirectly discriminatory, however well-meaning it may be.
“Given there is so much risk attached to getting the fine lines in these cases wrong, we strongly recommend employers take legal advice before dismissing someone refusing to be vaccinated. You must consider carefully the reasons for their refusal and look at alternative solutions before dismissing them.”
The UK government plans to offer a first vaccine dose to every adult by the end of July.
Swansea nurses meet King Charles during royal appointment
Llanelli politicians back alternative steel proposals as unions warn Tata’s current plans would mean closure of Trostre plant
Thieves target local cemeteries and disrupt water supplies
Big day at LC for city’s latest young sports ambassadors
Sea defence project reaches key milestone – for safety and sea life
Timings of goals the difference for Duff as Swans beaten at Leeds
Body found in search for missing Nantgaredig woman
Morriston Hospital under ‘exceptional pressures’ as over 80 emergency patients wait for beds
Revamped H Samuel shop shines bright in Swansea’s Quadrant Shopping Centre
Para-athlete Harrison Walsh shares his inspirational journey, revealing triumph over trauma
Popular Swansea pub set for grand re-opening after £279,000 makeover
Refurbished Llansamlet Go Outdoors store gets ready to reward shoppers at opening event
New light being shone on popular seafront promenade
Funding boost for Mumbles women’s fashion shop
Work completed on River Tawe pontoon
Aldi Fforestfach celebrates grand opening with help from Paralympian
Specsavers to invest more than £400,000 in new Mumbles store
Castle Square transformation takes new step
Photo treasure trove charts key decades in Swansea’s rich history
Free buses returning to Swansea for the festive period
Carmarthen2 days ago
Council agrees sale of sprawling former asylum in Carmarthen
Bridgend3 days ago
Independent pharmacy chain pick up former Lloyds pharmacy branches
Llanelli6 days ago
Scarlets and Ospreys announce team for West Wales Derby
South Wales Police2 days ago
Three arrests after Mount Pleasant home attacked with ‘weapons’
Dyfed Powys Police6 days ago
Trimsaran ‘deluded and ill-tempered’ driver who ‘used car as a weapon’ is jailed
Money1 day ago
Morriston receives banking hub following community request
Swansea6 days ago
‘My Wife fell in love with a Life Size Cardboard Cut-out of Ronan Keating’: Quirky new play comes to Swansea
Business3 days ago
Swansea-based housing association enters into merger discussions with Rhondda organisation