New HR guidance to help employers navigate vaccinations and the return to workplaces
So, the vaccine rollout is well underway and over the past few weeks, we’ve been asked a number of workplace vaccine related questions. Up until now, it has been difficult to answer some of these questions in the absence of any guidance available to us however, CIPD and Acas have just released new workplace guidance to help employers support and educate staff to get the vaccine, while maintaining good workplace relations and avoiding unnecessary conflict. Links to both guidance documents are below.
It is recommended, employers should support staff in getting the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine once it’s offered to them. You may find it useful to talk with your staff about the vaccine and share the benefits of being vaccinated. For example, there is specific guidance on the vaccine on GOV.UK.
To encourage staff to get the vaccine, Acas have suggested employers might consider:
- Paid time off to attend vaccination appointments
- Paying staff their usual rate of pay if they’re off sick with vaccine side effects, instead of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), unless your contract only allows for SSP
- Not counting vaccine-related absences in absence records or towards HR ‘trigger’ points
Employers that are having open discussions with their staff about the vaccine can support them to protect their health, maintain good working relationships, avoid disputes in the future and even look to agree a vaccine policy that is appropriate for your business. If this is something you would like support with, please get in touch.
In short, Acas advice is that it is best to support staff to get the vaccine without making it a requirement. However, it does acknowledge that it may be necessary to make vaccination mandatory in some job roles, such as where someone needs to travel overseas to do their job.
There’s been much speculation over whether employers can require their employees to have the COVID-19 vaccine or could restrict them from coming into a place of work if they haven’t had the jab. Employers can’t rely on the Government making vaccination compulsory. Despite some rumours circulating on social media, the Government has no legal powers to do this and has stated they have no intention in making it compulsory. Therefore this is likely to be a question assessed on a case by case basis. The government guidelines on vaccinations say that individuals must be given enough information to enable them to make a decision before they can give consent.
The CIPD’s guidance covers:
- Encouraging vaccination and how to communicate this
- Adopting a vaccination policy
- Planning for employees who can’t have the vaccine and employees who may be hesitant or refuse
- Asking employees (and potential employees) if they have had the vaccine
Where working from home is not possible, in addition to the Government guidance, the CIPD is urging businesses to ensure they can meet three key tests before bringing people back to the workplace.
- Is it essential? Can a person’s role only be done from their place of work, rather than at home?
- Is it sufficiently safe? Employers have a duty of care to identify and manage risks to ensure the workplace is sufficiently safe to return to.
- Is it mutually agreed? There must be conversations between employers and employees, so individual worries are taken into account and adjustments can be made.
The CIPD’s new guidance Preparing for the COVID-19 vaccination: guide for employers is available now at:
if you require HR consultancy advice in relation to this or need support with making plans to return to the workplace as lockdown eases, please let me know and we can book a consultation in to discuss your HR needs.
(This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice. All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.)