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Can my Employer Force me to have a Coronavirus Vaccine?

Among the first to receive the coronavirus vaccination are high risk healthcare and care home workers, and over the coming year it is expected tens of millions of people will follow suit. So, what are your rights as an employee, can your employer force you to have the vaccination?

An employer cannot ‘force’ or ‘compel’ you to have the coronavirus vaccine if you do not wish to have it. Although, depending on the circumstances, they may be within their rights to take action if they believe there are good reasons why you should. This is most likely to apply to those working in a healthcare or nursing home setting. In some situations, employees could be dismissed for refusing to have the vaccine if it means they will present a threat to themselves, patients, or service users.

Can my employer change my contract meaning I have to get a vaccination?

It is extremely unlikely an employer will be able to unreasonably amend a contract of employment and make it a mandatory requirement for someone to be vaccinated. However, there are a number of sectors where employers might be able to argue that the worker in the role should be vaccinated for health and safety reasons.

What are my rights to refuse my employer?

If your employer is insisting you are vaccinated but you are unsure, then you should raise any concerns you have and discuss them with your employer to see if a middle ground can be agreed.

Unless you are employed in a sector and hold a position where there are pressing health and safety reasons for you to be vaccinated, it is unlikely an employer will be able to insist you get one or take any action against you for not doing so.

It is always worth bearing in mind, that if you have fewer than two years’ service, you do not have the right to claim unfair dismissal – except in very limited circumstances – and those who provide their services on a self-employed or zero hours contract basis may also be less protected from their employer’s decisions.

Will I have to inform a prospective employer if I have been vaccinated?

There is a prohibition on employers asking prospective employees health related questions at interview. As with anything, there are some exceptions to this rule which could apply to roles where there is a health and safety aspect, meaning the employer needs to know if you have been vaccinated or not.

Overall, employers are likely to be in favour of their employees being vaccinated, but there will be workers who are concerned about the vaccine and would prefer not to have it. Employers cannot rely on the Government making vaccinations mandatory, despite numerous rumours circulating in the main-stream media to the contrary because they have no legal power to do so. The Government have also stated they have no intention of making the vaccination compulsory. In most cases, the final decision, lies with you.

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