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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Vaccine choices

With the vaccine for Covid 19 being rolled out to a significantly larger slice of the population, there was an interesting piece on BBC Radio Wales this morning reported on here.

With the UK justice secretary arguing it may be legal for companies to insist new staff are vaccinated, a solicitor told the station that her phone has been "ringing off the hook" with companies asking if they can refuse to employ someone who has declined a Covid jab.

Elissa Thursfield, an employment lawyer at a practice in Denbighshire, said she expected to see employment tribunals over 'no jab, no job' policies. She said employers needed to be able to justify any blanket policy.

"The phone has been ringing off the hook with people saying 'we're just worried - we lost residents, we lost staff members during this pandemic," said Ms Thursfield, who is head of employment at Gamlins Law in Rhyl.

She told BBC Radio Wales that employers are saying to her that insisting new staff have the jab "seems like a really sensible way of controlling" Covid and firms are asking "please can we do this?".

Ms Thursfield said with new staff it was "likely to be a slightly more straightforward legal issue" but with current staff it would be "significantly more complex".

"If you've got someone coming to work in a care home and they're a hands-on carer or a nurse they are going to be having significant close contact with clients at the care home - you can understand why the management would want people to be vaccinated," she said.

"However, if you've got somebody who works at home and has absolutely no day-to-day contact with other people, other than by virtual means, then 'no jab no job' will probably be seen to be unreasonable.

"What we're advising companies is make sure that you've looked at your risk assessments, you've decided the reasons why you want people to have the vaccine and how that's going to reduce the risk of Covid in your workplace, so making sure you can justify it before just putting a blanket policy out.

"There's a long process that employers are going to have to go through for existing employees, it's not going to be as simple as if you're not having it, you're out the door."

With talk about vaccination passports in England to enable people to go on holiday, the post Covid world is looking more and more interesting.
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