No Jab, No Job: Danger or Construction Firms
Tina Chander, Head of Employment Law at Midlands law firm Wright Hassall highlighted construction as one of the industries that could be at the centre of scrutiny around the vaccination in the coming months – after seeing an increase in enquiries on the topic within the sector.
Construction companies that are pursuing a ‘no jab, no job’ policy for their employees are “entering untested territory”, according to a leading employment lawyer.
As the UK starts to re-open various types of business premises, the question of employees carrying proof of vaccination has been raised, and some employers are considering insisting on new and existing staff having been inoculated.
Tina Chander commented: “An increasing number of our construction clients are seeking legal advice because a minority of their employees are refusing to have a vaccine.
“This is particularly significant, because those same construction firms are being told by their clients that they will not allow any adult on site who has not been vaccinated.
“Therefore, if the employer cannot send the employee to a site then the employee is not undertaking their role, leaving employers in a difficult position of what to do next.”
But, according to Ms Chander, company bosses who are considering disciplining or dismissing any staff member who refuses to have a Covid vaccine are running the risk of having to fight costly unfair dismissal, constructive unfair dismissal and discrimination claims.
She also urges employers to tread carefully with employees around the topic of vaccines as it remains unclear under what grounds this request could be accepted as reasonable. Of course, an employer can encourage their staff to take up the vaccine, but an employer has no legal right to force the jab on any employee.
Tina Chander, Head of Employment Law at Wright Hassall, added: “Put simply, I am not convinced that an employer can force a prospective or current employee to have a vaccine because there is no legal requirement for anyone to have one.
“This is a sensitive subject and poses a delicate balance that employers have to strike.
“On the one hand, employers have an obligation to ensure the health and wellbeing of their employees whilst at work, but employees also have a duty to co-operate with their employer and make sure they are mitigating any risk to their health, and the health of their colleagues and customers.
“Employers need to note that there may be some employees that might not want the vaccine due to religious reasons or philosophical beliefs, or some employees may have medical issues which prevent them from having a vaccine.
“If an employee falls into one of these categories, then an employer could be leaving themselves open to allegations of discrimination if they pursue disciplinary proceedings.
“That said, while employers should not approach this with a blanket rule that every employee must have a vaccine, it is reasonable for them to encourage their employees to have a vaccine.
“For those staff members that do refuse or decline, employers should consult with their employee to find out their reasons and carry out an individual risk assessment before taking any action, and if they have not already done so, seek professional legal advice to check the correct procedures are being followed.”
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