Employers urged to issue paid leave for vaccinations

Acas is also encouraging employers to speak to staff or their representatives about the vaccine and the benefits of being vaccinated

Acas, a workplace expert, is calling on employers to provide paid leave for staff who may need time off to receive their Covid-19 vaccination. 

While many office-based workplaces have adapted to home working during the pandemic, this has not been possible for many non-office-based workplaces, and some employers have expressed a desire for their staff to be vaccinated as a workplace condition.

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In light of this, Acas is now calling on employers to support staff in getting the coronavirus vaccine once it is offered to them, including paid time off for staff to attend vaccination appointments, as well as time off if they are off sick with vaccine side effects for a few days.

It also encouraged employers to speak to staff or their representatives about the vaccine and the benefits of being vaccinated. 

According to the group, talking points could include: the government’s latest vaccine health information; when staff might be offered the vaccine; if staff will need time off work for vaccine reasons; if staff might need the vaccine to be able carry out their work.

It added that 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 agree a vaccine policy that’s appropriate for staff and their organisation.

It is also advising employers that it is best to support staff to get the vaccine without making it a requirement. If an employer feels that vaccination is a necessary requirement for someone to do their job then they should “work with staff or the workplace’s recognised trade union to agree this”. 

This should ideally be set out in a workplace policy that is also in line with the organisation’s existing disciplinary and grievance policy, according to Acas.

If someone does not want to be vaccinated, then the employer should “listen to their concerns, be sensitive to individual circumstances and keep any concerns confidential”.  

Acas noted that some people may have legitimate reasons for not taking the vaccine or they could be protected from discrimination under equality legislation. For example, someone who is pregnant is exempt from vaccination. 

Acas CEO, Susan Clews, said: “The UK has a world leading coronavirus vaccination programme and recent projections suggest that everyone in the country may get offered the vaccine by the end of July. 

“This is great news which has given hope to many businesses and staff that have been impacted by the pandemic. Some employers have already indicated a wish for their employees to get vaccinated once it is their turn but this is a tricky area of employment law as vaccines have always been voluntary.”

“Our new advice aims to help employers support staff to get the vaccine, maintain good workplace relations and avoid unnecessary conflict.”

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