Knowledge Hub | Articles

21 May 2021

How to handle vaccine hesitancy at work

How to handle vaccine hesitancy at work

Following our previous work related vaccination article (Can I say ‘no’ to going to work if I have not yet had the vaccine?), our employment team advises on how to handle vaccine hesitancy in the workplace.

The UK’s vaccine rollout is being widely celebrated.  However, there has been some documented vaccine hesitancy, and such hesitancy may be prevalent in younger people, many of whom have yet to be offered the opportunity.  Further, some are advised not to be vaccinated.

The legal position concerning the relationship between vaccination and work is mostly as it was earlier in the year, if it is not actually more involved now that more is known; while it remains unlikely that the Government will legislate to make vaccination compulsory.   

In short, it may be possible for certain employers to establish that it is necessary for their staff to be vaccinated, although this may, perhaps until more is known about the effectiveness of the vaccines, be limited to circumstances where the health and safety of staff, service users or third parties is especially at risk and the decision is taken reasonably.

Otherwise, with any of the following considerations potentially applying (possibly among certain others), determining the position is usually a fact dependent question:

  • Vaccination may not be suitable in all circumstances, for example for those with immune system disorders or severe allergies.  
  • Requiring an employee to be vaccinated without their consent as a condition to providing them with work could cause such damage under the employment contract as entitling the employee to resign and bring a claim for constructive dismissal.
  • The same could be indirectly discriminatory (on age, religion or belief, disability, pregnancy or maternity, sex, or race grounds), as well as, potentially, a breach of Article 8 (right to privacy) or Article 9 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion).
  • It may not be simple to establish that vaccination is required on health and safety grounds.  While evidence is growing that the vaccines are effective, there are still many unknowns; for example, how effective are they in preventing spread of the virus and for how long will any such protection last. 

And that is not necessarily an exhaustive list.

It may be that a considered vaccination policy is already in place.  Otherwise, for the time being, particularly where health and safety considerations may not be especially significant, one that supports and encourages vaccination and listens to concerns may well be the advisable approach. There may be an alternative to vaccination.

Contact our employment team for help in relation to vaccination policy or any other queries on this area. Get in touch on 01753 889995 or email enquiries@bpcollins.co.uk.

Ben Lindsay

Ben Lindsay

Tel: 01753 396304 | 07341 864310

Kathryn Fielder

Kathryn Fielder

Tel: 01753 279029 | 07889 625192

About cookies on our website

Our Site uses cookies to improve your experience of certain areas of the Site and to allow the use of specific functionality, such as social media page sharing. You may delete and block all cookies from this Site, but as a result, parts of the Site may not work as intended.

To find out more about our cookies policy, please visit here.

Click on the button below to accept the use of cookies on this Site (this will prevent the dialogue box from appearing on future visits).